Starcatchers Play Fund is an award for artists or artist collectives to to explore their practice and develop new works suitable for an early years audience and their grown-ups.

The aims of the Play Fund are to:

  • Support artists with time and space to explore and progress ideas and practice, in making work for babies and young children, from birth to 5 years, and their adults.
  • Encourage artists to push the boundaries of what an arts experience for babies and young children can be.

Future call-outs for Playfund will be shared here, on social media, to our mailing lists and on the Creative Scotland opportunities website. We hope to have another call out in 2023.

Collection of 6 images of artists who have been awarded the Play Fund.

top row l-r: Niloo-Far Khan, Rachel Colles (credit Kelman Greig-Kicks), Sarmed Mirza.
Bottom row l-r: Fiona Ferrier (credit Kelman Greig-Kicks), Ben Winger, Lucy McGreal (credit Kelman Greig)

Recipients of round two of their Play Fund, developed to seed new work for young audiences and ensure that artists are supported to develop their practice with space and time to create new work:

Lucy McGreal, a performer and trained Therapeutic Clown, will investigate the challenges that a family of multiples has when trying to access live artistic experiences. She will look at developing a model that enables a parent or caregiver to engage with more than one baby at a time and feel confident engaging in an interactive live artistic experience.

Rachel Colles and Fiona Ferrier are Artistic Directors of Dirliebane Theatre Company, creating clown theatre performances for children, young people and their families.
Through development of Stand, Sit and Lie Dirliebane will observe and explore what babies up to the age of one are doing in the moment of these three positions and look for common or playful experiences they have to create a piece of work about connection that can speak to a very young audience.

Ben Winger is a trained Clown Doctor and performer. Through the Play Fund, Ben will research and develop an interactive performance piece, The Kingfisher, for 3–5-year-olds, exploring the themes of ownership, isolation and loneliness, inspired by Oliver Jeffers’ The Fate of Fausto.

Niloo-Far Khan and Sarmed Mirza, theatre creators interested in making works for children and families, want to explore a new concept of making theatre from a baby’s perspective: looking up to the ceiling and using light and shadow to tell an engaging visual and musical story for young babies and parents. The Last Iceberg is a research and development work, which will explore themes of displacement and global warming. Niloo and Sarmed want to take the family on an emotional journey about the relationship between a human family and a family of polar bears that are displaced due to global warming.

May 2021 Awards

The first round saw four artist teams awarded for a range of work including performances, community engagement projects and development time for exploring a new idea.

Theatre-maker Kirsty Pennycook, and performer, Brooklyn Melvin, will spend a week in rehearsal and development creating movement based around the beautifully illustrated book, The Song of the Tree. They will explore how an early years audience might follow the story visually, and test ideas for babies without spoken language, using Brooklyn’s skilled use of Visual Vernacular British Sign Language, a form of physical theatre performed by deaf artists. 

Judith Williams, Susan Applebee, and Rory Clark will begin research into a piece called ‘here & now’ that supports families to deeply listen to themselves, each other and the world. Judith Williams, Artistic Director of The Letter J said, “The parasympathetic systems of young babes and their caregivers are intertwined – when we slow our breath and heartbeat our babes’ systems also settle.” The piece is described as a “prayer to the present” with improvised music, and a sound installation along a forest trail. 

Playing Together, is a new Dance show created by Andre Anderson, an arts  facilitator, theatre-maker and performer  based in Dumfries, Scotland. Dance, play, and adventures inform his work, and his piece is for families and careers and centres on the power of outdoor play, hoping to inspire  others to take to the great outdoors and make adventures  and memories of their own. The piece uses international play, an original score and movement to drive the message of the importance of recreational  activities outside. Andre said, “I have seen first-hand what young children can do and can’t wait to unlock more of their potential  through creative play and can’t wait to see the result of this newly devised show.”  

Originally from Hong Kong, Cynthia WS Cheung is an arts practitioner, performance maker and stage manager based in Edinburgh. Festival Adventure is a project exploring the different festival traditions through wraparound activities and performance. It aims to provide a space for us and the young audience to experience multiculturalism and celebrate uniqueness. Working with collaborators with diverse backgrounds, Festival Adventure includes activities that involve multisensory creative play for ages 2-5 to explore different festival traditions and stories. Cynthia said, “Like the adult, children should have the opportunity to explore the world, enjoy different festivals, experience multiculturalism and celebrate the beauty of diversity.” 

Main image at top of page from Cynthia WS Cheung’s Festival Adventure workshops