ISTA’s Event Review

27 November 2017

ISTA has been delivering high quality creative experiences for young people since 1978. As we approach our 40th birthday we reflect on our growth from a small, informal association of teachers to a global arts organisation producing over 60 events a year with a membership of 220 schools.

A huge part of our overall programme is made up of festivals for young people at primary school, middle school and high school level. These events are usually three days in length and involve participating young people from a range of schools coming together in ensemble groups led by artists to creatively explore a ‘framing’ question. These festivals are guided by ISTA’s pedagogy which places learning, exploration and collaboration at the heart of the creative process.

The overall model for delivering an ISTA festival was last reviewed in 2005 and since this time we recognise there has been a number of significant developments in the dialogue surrounding creative learning and participatory theatre. It is our aim to respond to these innovations and undergo a process of evaluation and review of our festivals in order to make sure we are delivering a model of best practice for the young people we work with.

We must be confident as an organisation that our events are still relevant, up to date and fulfilling our mission and values. Our world is in constant flux and change. To what extent are our events appropriate now as they were 15… 10… 5 years ago? We see huge shifts in theatre, curricular, pedagogy and research. How do these shifts inform the notion of best practice for our artists, teachers and young people participating in festivals.

Following the current review, ISTA will then commit to reviewing all of our events on a 7-year cycle; ensuring we are always offering the most impactful and relevant experience to our young people. We will begin a review of TaPS in 2019-2020.

Rationale for change

ISTA is committed to providing best practice at all our events. As such we have a responsibility to regularly review our events to ensure that their content remains relevant; incorporating the latest in arts and educational research; and that events are consistent with current international artistic and educational models as well as our mission, pedagogy and values.

The organisation is currently undergoing an event review which will begin with festivals. This review will consider the following:

Feedback from teachers about the festival experience – this will include:
Face to face conversations at events led by the Rep.
Longer surveys/discussions with key team of invited member teachers.

Input from key members of our community including trustees, senior consultants and staff.

Research into current educational theatre practice.

A number of pilot festivals exploring ways in which we can enrich the creative process while still staying true to a participant centred process; making the most of our short time with the young people.

We will be gathering data and evidence during 2017-2018 as well as piloting a number of initiatives at selected festivals during the current year.

This process will continue through 2018-2019 with full implementation in 2019-2020.