Barefeet Theatre is an NGO built by a team of artists to share their creative disciplines with young people, with the sole purpose of bringing about change and human development. They are an outward looking cultural movement founded in Zambia in 2006 by a group of Zambian and Irish artists who met by chance (some would say fate), and began to collaborate creatively together, delivering theatre workshops with children living on the streets. The workshops were a great success, and many children came off the streets and into the Children’s Centres as a direct result of engaging in the workshops.

Barefeet Theatre is committed to contributing to the development of the children living on the streets, previously on the streets or at risk of going to the streets of Zambia, into physical, healthy, cognitively and socially competent young people. Through the theatre for development methods of play, creativity and self-expression, Barefeet offers these children opportunities for divergent thinking and encourages them to believe in their own capacity to be creative and make positive life choices. Many of the Barefeet members have themselves lived on the streets and grown up in the very Children Centres that they now deliver workshops in, acting as fantastic inspirational role models for the children and youth they work with.

The annual Barefeet Youth Arts Festival is the culmination of their intervention workshops, bringing youth from across the country together with local, national and international artists for a colorful, vibrant and exciting two week celebration of theater, art, music, dance, film, debate, carnival, interactive workshops and more. For the last few years the theme has focused on climate change and related environmental issues, working in collaboration with UNICEF and the Zambian Children’s Climate Change Conference (ZCCC). Costumes and carnival sculptures are made by children from found and reused materials, and there is a huge carnival procession through the streets of Lusaka.

Barefeet believes networks and creative partnerships have blossomed from the Barefeet festival and this TIE placement will support them in scaling that impact for the next festival.

Octopus Ventures is sending Claire Cunningham on TIE to work with Barefeet Theatre in 2019 to help bring their Youth Arts Festival to the next level by creating a thorough project plan and supporting the staff on how to best implement their ideas. Learn more about her here.