ricca ricca*festa 2016 Event Report

While we have been in contact and aware of each other’s work in the field, it was wonderful to attend the festival together and talk about the works we saw, and understand each other’s philosophy about creating works for young audiences.
Luanne Poh (Singapore)


I was, nominated by National Arts Council (Singapore) and, invited by ACO Okinawa and Japan Foundation Asia Center to attend the Asian TYA Network. ricca ricca*festa has formed the ATYA (Asian Alliance of Theatre Festivals for Young Audiences) with 13 other TYA festivals in the East & Southeast Asia region and is the chair festival for the alliance.

This year, ricca ricca*festa, together with Japan Foundation Asia Center, invited 18 participants from the Southeast Asia region to join in the exchange of ideas and share about the TYA climate in each of our regions. We were also accompanied by some international delegates, from Italy, Scotland, Denmark from ASSITEJ International.


Currently, as a creative producer in TYA and working towards setting up a more vibrant scene in Singapore for TYA, attending this forum was a serendipitous way forward for us to connect with our regional and international like-minded partners, and most importantly, to learn about best practices in the field.

During the festival, we were tasked to have conversations with one another and it was wonderful how the various activities and festival environment at ricca ricca*festa made it possible and conducive.

Some Significant Connections & Potential Key Partners

  1. Papermoon Puppet Theatre
    While we have been in contact and aware of each other’s work in the field, it was wonderful to attend the festival together and talk about the works we saw, and understand each other’s philosophy about creating works for young audiences. The festival and networking / social environments also allowed us to build on one another’s contacts and make more connections with other like-minded partners.
  2. Dalija Acin Thelander
    While I have heard about “Baby Space”, this is the first time I have experienced the work – and it was amazing! It is a wonderful piece of theatre, both for the audiences and artists involved. The intention of bringing a piece of work like “Baby Space” and working with the local artists to create a piece of work that is culturally relevant for the local audience and beneficial to the artistic community is both generous and progressive for the TYA community at large.
  3. BICT
    We were so glad to have made this connection with the inaugural BICT, and soak in the enthusiasm and passion of the team from Bangkok. It reminded us of why it is so important to continuously create platforms, despite the challenges, and ignited our first original (almost pure) intentions of creating works for young audiences and families. Also, we were amazed at how comprehensive the festival programming was, in terms of its international and local presentations, and workshops for the families as well as forum for the industry.
    We were also pleasantly surprised to learn about BICT’s partnership with Japan Foundation, particularly in the latter’s funding of a non-Japanese company in the festival. It was heartening to once again learn about the generosity of like-minded partners in the field to boost and forward the growth of our relatively infancy stage of TYA industry in SE Asia.
  4. Creative Scotland
    Starcatchers UK have been working with young artists and funding them to incubate and create original works for young audiences in their local communities. And Creative Scotland has been the enabling force behind Starcatchers UK, amongst many other Scottish companies. It was good to connect with Creative Scotland, a “veteran” in the many aspects of their work in enabling artists, and also learn about their potential continual interest in having a Scottish focus in future ricca ricca*festa's.

Key Learning Points

  1. Age appropriateness & Engagement
    As shared by Roberto Frabetti (Italy), Co-Founder of La Baracca Teatro, and Diana Tepavac (Serbia), President of ASSITEJ Seria, the cognitive development of the child is an important aspect of creating, engaging and recommending works for young audiences.
    Each child, is a complete human, at the cognitive developmental stage of the age that they are. They are not ¼ or ½ of an adult audience, and therefore only entitled to an artistic experience that is of any lesser quality or value. Each child chooses to engage with the show, dependent on the appropriate engagement that they are receiving. The artist must put aside their ego, and learn from the child who is like a ‘teacher’ in the show. If the artist is full of ego, it would be impossible to “listen” to the children/teacher and engage with the audience appropriately. The intimacy of this theatre environment requires more from the actor, and dismisses the myth that theatre for young audiences are child’s play.
  2. Economic aspect
    Due of the intimacy of these theatrical experiences, there are often questions about the economic viability of TYA. However, if we are able to create a good piece of work for young audiences that is both authentic and age-appropriate, it would withstand the ‘trendiness’ of time and be able to go into repertory. Also, it is possible to look at TYA as a socially progressive and beneficial aspect of the cultural environment we live in, and look for funding/partners outside of the arts industry.

Moving Forward

We look forward to be a part of the ATYA Network, and to continue to network with our regional counterparts, and understand best practices from the established international partners. Also, we would love to be able to engage with ACO Okinawa in the next phase of this project, and see how we can benefit our Singaporean artists in creating a more vibrant TYA environment for our local audiences. And in time, share our practices and works with our partners in the region.

Luanne Poh

Independent Creative Producer

Participant at ricca ricca*festa
Luanne Poh
Independent Creative Producer
Participant at ricca ricca*festa