Barefeet is 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.

The movement seeks to ignite the creative fire in all its participants and audiences. Using the power of art, performance and entertainment to inspire, build and transform lives.

Barefeet works with children who have found themselves in difficult situations, living on the streets, previously on the streets or at risk of going to the streets of Zambia. 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.

The young people who are involved with the organisation develop vital skills and information that they can then use as a weapon to assist their development, building into physically, cognitively and socially competent young people.

But then Covid hit, and the pandemic challenged their whole operation. Their work relies on them being able to physically bring the children together, and that was impossible during lockdown periods.

The pandemic also limited their ability to get funding. The country was already going through an economic crisis before commerce shut down due to Covid, and funding for arts was already scarce. Now the organisation is in need of serious redevelopment that will allow them to keep empowering vulnerable children in Zambia.

Through this TIE project, Barefeet is looking to adapt their business model which will consider the impact of Covid-19, but also their vision of growth for the years ahead. They are looking to new audiences in a format that is more accessible, so that they can in turn reach more youth and cause a bigger impact in the world.