“Connected, welcome, in wonder”
Polyglot is delighted that some COVID-19 restrictions have eased in Victoria this week, and we look forward to connecting in person with children and families soon. We are thinking of everyone in NSW and sending you our best wishes. If you need some creative fun sprinkled in between remote learning and WFH, check out Polyglot at home. Created during Melbourne’s 2020 lockdown, these are fun activities that use materials you’ve likely got in the backyard, kitchen cupboard or recycling bin, and can stretch imaginations (of all ages) for hours.
We are very excited that a partnership with Inlet Dance Theatre, a Cleveland-based company, means that our beloved Play Space work Ants is being presented in the USA by Des Moines Performing Arts next week! Free 30-min performances will take place in different outdoor parks in the Des Moines metro area from 5-8 August. It brings us great joy that our collaboration with Inlet ensures that children and families in the US can still access our playful experiences.
During the recent Victorian school holidays, we presented Paper Planet with Abbotsford Convent. This season was designed to specifically meet the needs of families who have a child or children with a disability. Over 90 families attended across the season, and we were thrilled that we could safely play with Melbourne audiences again amongst the tall cardboard trees in the Oratory. One family described themselves as feeling “connected, welcome, in wonder” during Paper Planet, which was especially lovely to hear. Polyglot artist Tirese Ballard also reflected on the experience: “There was a couple of times where I saw really young kids drop right into a make-believe world, and I had moments when I viscerally recalled doing this myself as a young child – remembering a sense of immersion and commitment to that world.”
Embedding access more deeply into all areas of our organisation and practice is a priority for Polyglot. Our work is inherently inclusive, with its immersive, sensory focus, and participant choice in how they interact with the space and artists, and we are taking further steps to ensure that all children and families feel welcomed and supported to engage in our experiences. Our mid-year fundraising appeal centred around this, and we were touched and humbled that we raised nearly double our target. This incredible support will allow us to look ahead, plan and reach every child that needs the kind of creativity that Polyglot offers.
Paper Planet was also scheduled to be part of the ArtPlay program for Open House Melbourne on 24-25 July, however lockdown 5.0 saw the OHM Weekend program move online. Paper and Tape Escape, our online workshop, was presented instead, offering children and families a chance to imagine, create and play with Polyglot in their own homes.
Early July saw the Voice Lab dome have its first outing since February 2020. It visited Satellite Foundation, where it spoke to 13 children about their lives, and about the Satellite programs in which they have been involved.
Voice Lab: If your voice could be heard by the whole world, what would you say?
Child: Understand that everyone around you could be a hero if they were seen in a particular light. Every single person.
And our Administration and Operations Coordinator Sophie Overett celebrated the release of her debut novel earlier this month! Winner of the 2020 Penguin Literary Prize, The Rabbits is ‘…a multigenerational family story with a dose of magical realism. It is about family secrets, art, very mild superpowers, loneliness and the strange connections we make in the places we least expect.’ It’s available now in bookstores: penguin.com.au/books/the-rabbits
In September, the City of Greater Dandenong Arts and Culture Education Program will present our Professional Development workshop for teachers and practitioners living or working in the Greater Dandenong area. It will focus on child-led practice; how the adult can facilitate authentic agency and become the learner, participant and observer.
Please take care over the next little while. By looking out for those around us we can find strength in community and kindness.