Participating in high quality arts experiences can have a transformative impact on children, particularly those who are vulnerable, and we are committed to ensuring artists are supported to meet the needs of this very diverse group. Artists, Art and Early Childhood is a two-year European research project (2017-2019) led by Starcatchers (UK), Compagnie ACTA (France) and 2 Turven Hoog (Netherlands), and funded by Erasmus Plus.

The project will create a European network of artists whose focus will be on the relationship between artists and young children in day-to-day life — in early learning and childcare (ELC) settings, arts venues and festivals — and the impact that this has on both children and artists themselves.

What is the nature of the relationship between artists, children and their carers in different settings? How does short and longer-term engagement with artists benefit children and their carers? And how can this relationship be woven into the creation of artists’ work so that it better meets the needs of its audience?

During a series of study visits to each of the participating countries, participants will learn about each country’s policies and approaches to culture and the early years, visit ELC settings and explore artistic experiences for young children in arts venues and festivals. They will have the opportunity to observe, share practice and reflect on their learning.

Laurent DuPont and artist Anne-Beth in discussion at Compagnie ACTA’s conference Premier Recontres in Villiers-le-Bel (2018)

The programme:

Study visit to Villiers-le-Bel, Paris, November 2017

Participants explored approaches to ELC with sector professionals and visited ELC settings. Artists also met Julie Chene, The Puzzle Collection and visited Lunatic Compagnie, in residency at ACTA, to see their work in development Twinkle.

Study visit to Edinburgh and Glasgow, January 2018

Participants explored approaches to ELC within the Scottish context and visited a range of ELC settings and early years and arts projects, including an outdoor nursery and Starcatchers’ own Expecting Something Projects and Platform’s Playcafe.

They also attended a performance of The Attic, Starcatchers’ live music and theatre experience for children aged 18 months to 3 years.

Residency in Villiers-le-Bel, Paris, March 2018

Participants worked in pairs in various ELC settings over the course of two weeks, experimenting with and exploring a range of performative approaches with the children. Reflection and evaluation of their work took place in the afternoons at Compagnie ACTA, where participants had the opportunity to exchange and develop their practice.

In the final week, participants attended Premieres Recontres (First Meetings), Compagnie ACTA’s forum, which focuses on arts in early years and included not only shows but workshops, debates, exhibitions and talks from artists, researchers, scientists, sector professionals and local politicians.

Study visit to The Netherlands (September 2018)

This visit allowed the group to develop an understanding of the childcare system in The Netherlands where, since January 2018, childcare is provided solely by private organisations.

The artists and company members visited a range of ELC settings in Amsterdam and The Hague, including Perron 7, an inspiring Reggio-based setting.

They also observed delivery of creative CPD for childcare staff by Stichting 2+/2Turvenhooog through their Jong Beginnings programme, supporting artists to go into childcare settings in The Hague.

Residency in Glasgow, Scotland (November 2018)

During this week-long residency week artists worked directly with young children in a studio space based within a Glasgow nursery.

The Blairtummock Childcare Centre for Excellence, run by Rising Stars Nursery, is a short walk from Glasgow’s East End arts centre Platform and has a baby room housed within the Glasgow Kelvin College building that Platform is part of.

The artists explored ideas and with groups of children, adapting their ideas in response to the children’s interests.

The artists noted that their own relationships developed during this week as their understanding of each other’s practice increased.

Partner organisation staff and ELC staff from France also visited other childcare settings in Glasgow and heard a presentation on Scotland’s ELC system from Dr. CaraBlaisdell, Lecturer in Early Years Education at the University of Strathclyde.

Residency in Almere, The Netherlands (April 2019)

This final residency coincided with the 20th2Turvenhoog Festival, enabling artists to see work from The Netherlands and across Europe as well as develop their own activity.

Easter meant it was more challenging to work in the nursery, however artists worked in their own studio space in Almere building on ideas that were the focus of their work in Scotland including falling; gravity; and nature.

Groups of children and their parents observed a ‘work in progress’ experience in the studio.  Artists also developed concepts, including the use of film, green screen and digital technology within a pop studio they had in the festival venue.

Project Partners

Compagnie ACTA (Paris)

ACTA (Association for Theatrical and Audiovisual creation) creates shows for all age groups in France and abroad, building a bridge between different artistic languages so that they can meet on the same scene (singing, dancing, acrobatics, texts from modern authors, photography).

ACTA’s work is primarily dedicated to young or very young audiences, with early performances exploring the pleasure of growing up and walking (Sous la table, Ooh so rond and Renaissances) and the pleasure of looking (Les jardin des chimères and ¡ Mira! le pays des reflets). Laurent Dupont has been the Artistic Director of ACTA since 2014, his latest work is Sons…Jardins secrets for audiences aged 4+.

ACTA also organises The Premières Rencontres, an international festival in Val d’Oise and Seine-et-Marne showcasing work for young audiences.

2 Turven Hoog (Amsterdam)

2 Turven Hoog encourages the development of high quality art for young children aged 0 to 6 years. They create productions under the banner of Stichting 2+ Producties, as well as running Festival 2 Turven Hoog and Young Start, which places artists in early learning and childcare settings and theatres to stimulate the development of new work and connect young children with art experiences in their own environment.

Festival 2 Turven Hoog, has been running for 17 years in Almere, and now also takes the festival across the Netherlands to The Hague, Haarlem and Amsterdam. Presenting beautiful theater, dance, music and music theater performances from the Netherlands and Europe, for children from 0 to 6 years old. It creates space for creation and presents performances and installations for the smallest children and the people around them, enabling children, art and artists to meet and inspire each other.

A full evaluation will share the learning from the project including experiences, reflections and conclusions about the work of artists in early years settings and the way in which this impacts their creations, and will include the publication of a research paper.


About Erasmus +

Artists, art and early childhood is funded by Erasmus +, an EU Programme that facilitates skills exchange and development between professionals in participating countries in the fields of education, training, youth and sport (2014-2021). The funding is supports innovation and the exchange of practices and the development of strategic partnerships in education and training.


Artists travelling together to their sessions at Compagnie ACTA