Della Hill, our in-house data whizz (AKA our Operations and Social Impact Manager), opened up her spreadsheets and gathered some feedback from audiences to share the lowdown on Kidstown.
Over 16 days in July and August children across Wales stepped into a world where they reigned supreme, and creativity knew no bounds. Kidstown, masterminded by visionary artists Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari, transformed the outdoors into a stage for children to explore and experiment with the wonders of theatre and creativity through an installation, designed by Amy Pitt. The unique twist? Grown-ups weren’t allowed in. Instead, skilled ‘Kidstown Experts’ were on-site to give children a safe space for their imaginations to run wild.
"Really, really awesome! I won a contest! I created so much stuff! Best. Day. EVER!" - Child
How Kidstown came to be
Powered by partnerships, community collaboration, freedom and expression, and, above all, heaps of fun, Kidstown made its stops in Newtown, the Llŷn Peninsula at the National Eisteddfod and Ebbw Vale. This experimental theatre project had been initially piloted in Newtown in 2022. Borne out of the realisation that the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate emergency had profoundly affected a generation of children, it aimed to provide an experience that revives a sense of freedom and joy. Kidstown empowers Wales’ children to make sense of their environment by making and building through imagination, chaotic and uninhibited play, aligning and complementing the integral skills of the four purposes within the Curriculum for Wales.
"Great! I couldn’t thank you enough! My son is 6 and can be shy and hesitant to take part in things. He loves it here, having the freedom to create and play. Got up this morning and wanted to come straight to Kidstown! Certainly an Eisteddfod highlight for him… Lovely getting the chance to listen from the outside, a wonderful experience." - Grown up
The numbers behind Kidstown’s impact
Across 16 days...
2,630+ people visited, with many staying for the whole five hours, and returning day after day
36% of kids came back for more than one day; some were there from start to opening time until closing time every day
86 freelance theatre makers from across Wales were employed, trained and supported to make Kidstown happen
8 accessibility sessions were held so everyone had the opportunity to explore their imaginations, from BSL to relaxed sessions
23 ‘Kidstown Experts’ – employed from each local area – were on-site, helping the children unlock their creative potential
1.23 million engaged via television and radio, including Kidstown's magic being shared on BBC One’s BBC Breakfast TV
800 packed lunches were made to fuel young creative minds
150,000+ impressions on Twitter (or X!) during our live tweeting, enabling everyone to enjoy the fun at Kidstown as it happened
100+ suitcases were filled with exciting props, costumes and craft materials for the children to turn into all sorts of creations!
Kidstown is incredible - a performance on many levels. My son will certainly take this experience with him long into adulthood.
This place is really good. I want it in every Eisteddfod.
It has been an incredible boost to the town this week… We loved being in the Kidstown ‘suburbs’ and listening to the audio was so moving, funny, heartbreaking.
Steffan Jones Hughes, Director, Oriel Davies
I found Kidstown to be a really positive work environment and just a great experience in general. I got the opportunity to practise many skills that will be helpful in future work.
Kidstown Crew Member
Everything we do at NTW is in collaboration. Kidstown was a team effort that brought together artists, professionals and volunteers, all working passionately to bring this imaginative wonderland to life.
We also want to say a big thank you to our partners and sponsors:
So, what’s next?
Well, Kidstown’s creators, Nigel & Louise will now listen back to all of the audio recordings and get to work on crafting a script for the epic and radically innovative theatre show we’re making next year.
If you don’t already get our emails, sign up to our mailing list to hear all about the next steps.
What happened in Kidstown
As soon as the children got their ‘Passport’ and stepped through the ‘Departure Gates’, designed to mimic an airport experience, they became citizens of Kidstown. With no rules to contain them and a treasure trove of items to play with at their disposal, it was entirely up to them to decide how they’d spend their time with us. Nigel & Louise interviewed the kids and narrated the magic of Kidstown through speakers for parents and guardians to enjoy from outside. Whether it was computer hackers saving the digital world in Newtown, time travellers returning secrets from the future at the Eisteddfod, or volcanologists preventing eruptions in Ebbw Vale, we heard of a range of impressive imaginative realities brought to life by the minds of Wales’ younger generation.
Watch our postcard from Kidstown:
“All I can say from a parent that had the privilege through my involvement with Kidstown is how truly thankful I am that you brought Kidstown back… The area that Kidstown creates is so important, and witnessing and being part of that is a real privilege.” - Grown up in Newtown