Accessibility statement

York Festival of Ideas reaches out to unlock children’s creativity

Posted on 19 May 2021

York Festival of Ideas has unveiled an ambitious initiative that aims to unlock the creative potential of 2,000 local primary schoolchildren.

Photo of student surrounded by creative items being packed into bags for childrenUniversity of York student Bruna Rodrigues packing Bags of Creativity

Working with REACH – the York Cultural Education Partnership - the Bags of Creativity project is helping to make the Festival’s events and activities more accessible to a wider local audience. 

York Festival of Ideas has worked with 20 local partners to develop and produce Bags of Creativity packed with a range of creative resources. Working with City of York Council, the University of York has distributed bags to every York primary school who will hand them out this week to pupils in receipt of free school meals – more than 2,000 children across 51 schools. 

In normal times, the Festival, which runs from 8-20 June, offers a host of in-person, hands-on workshops for children to enjoy. The bags will ensure all children have the chance to continue to engage with the Festival.

Exciting activities

The bags contain a colourful array of exciting activities and resources from home experiments with bubbles, to origami and beads for constructing models of neurons. Activities will link to free online Festival content which anyone around the world can also enjoy.

Festival Director Joan Concannon said: “This exciting initiative signifies our passionate commitment to widening participation in our home city in parallel with our determination to broaden the Festival’s audience across the world.

“It is an example of the Festival’s ability to embrace novel modes of inclusion, allowing us to reach a wider audience while remaining steadfast to our ethos to educate, entertain and inspire audiences of all ages.

“We are thrilled to join REACH in delivering this imaginative project which will give more young people the chance to engage with the Festival and nurture their creative potential. Our thanks to the University of York and the York Museums Trust for their support, and our partners across the city for their enthusiastic involvement in this project.”


Chris Edwards, chair of REACH, added: “In these challenging times, we need to find even more inventive ways to help schools, parents, carers and families get creative at home. We particularly want to help those families who aren’t confident or able to access the brilliant resources we have in York. 

“This fantastic project in partnership with York Festival of Ideas is an exciting extension of our work to help all young people in our city to sing, dance, act, make music, perform, experiment, design and create.”

James Rourke, Headteacher at Lord Deramore's Primary School, said: “Alongside the basics of reading, writing and maths, creativity and the arts are an absolutely vital part of a child's education that can sometimes be overlooked - especially with academic 'catch up' being the main issue discussed in the media post Covid. 

“These new bags will help reach those families who often struggle to finance and resource the creative pursuits regularly accessed by our more advantaged children. In addition, the online support and resources will provide teachers with further ideas to make their lessons even more engaging and enjoyable.”

In a separate initiative, York residents who are unable to watch online events at home can book a computer at Explore Libraries across York, where free Festival ‘earbud’ headphones are available. 

Further information:

  • Led by the University of York, York Festival of Ideas, whose headline sponsor is the Holbeck Charitable Trust, celebrates human ingenuity and imagination, and the power of education and ideas to change lives for the better.  This year it runs from 8-20 June, with a special day of events to celebrate its 10th anniversary on Monday, 7 June.
  • REACH is the York Cultural Education Partnership delivering the Children and Young People’s elements of York’s Creative Future: York Culture Strategy.  
  • Image credit: University of York/Alex Holland

Explore more news