The Barefeet Theatre is a Zambian NGO, founded in 2006 by a team of artists who share their creative disciplines with young people, with the sole purpose of bringing about change and human development. At first, they worked together to deliver theatre workshops to children living in the streets of Zambia and they noticed the positive impact in those children’s lives. Since this humble beginning, Barefeet has grown organically into a vibrant, exciting and groundbreaking organization, utilizing the power of art to inspire build and transform lives. Providing young people with an increased appreciation of culture and art and creating an army of knowledgeable youth advocates empowered to spark creative fires across the country.
In November 2013, Holly McGavock from Grey NY went to Lusaka, Zambia, to work along with Barefeet Team to build an effective, appropriate and sustainable communications strategy. This strategy will raise awareness of the issues faced by the children and the young people they work with. Barefeet wants to showcase their talent, enabling their voices to be heard throughout society, promoting the organization’s work and strengthening its sustainability.
Following from the strategy developed by Holly, Grey NY sent the amazing Sam Miller. The goal was to apply the strategy to Barefeet’s perfomance company and help them communicate what they are all about – and by doing so, get more companies to hire their shows. According to Adam McGuigan, one of the Founders of Barefeet, these two placements felt like one long and rich process to the organization. To put in his own words, “The Legend of Sam will live long after she left Lusaka. We have made a significant leap in the organisation because of her huge and important contribution!”
Cheryl Binnis from LV= worked with Barefeet Theatre to develop their business strategy and professionalise their communications with clients and donors, so as to help them generate more sustainable funding for the great work they do with vulnerable children across Zambia. She created a great set of materials they can use during meetings and pitches with potential sponsors, helping to convey their activities in a professional way. You can read more about her project here.
Following up on Cheryl’s placement with Barefeet, the Octopus Group sent Claire Cunningham to work with Barefeet for a month in February 2019, to help them rethink and plan their annual Youth Arts Festival – a platform for vulnerable to children to express themselves – which is one of Barefeet’s biggest events. Claire helped the team figure out a more sustainable structure for the 2019 festival and how they would approach potential sponsors for this event. You can read more about her project here.
Barefeet’s biggest challenge was in getting new funding. Zambia’s current economy and the reduction in funding for the arts makes getting people to show their belief in their mission harder, and it didn’t help that their portifolio and communications stratetegy didn’t convey all the work they do nowadays.
To address this challenge, Alice Walker worked with Barefeet to help them create a new long term marketing strategy that reflected where they currently stand as an organisation and their current portfolio of activities, with a view to attracting new funders and donors. This revamped strategy will also work as one of the tools to ensure their financial sustainability in the years ahead. You can read more about her here.
Barefeet, like many other organisations, was largely hit by Covid. With lockdowns in place and public gatherings limited, they were unable to engage with their beneficiaries, the vulnerable children of Zambia. As well, due to not being able to offer theatre, music and drumming performances, which was one of their main sources of income, the organisation was also hit hard financially. Barefeet Theatre needed to pivot and update their business strategy in order to adapt their business model to a post-Covid World, and reach new audiences in a format that was more accessible.
And this is where TIE came in.
A team of professionals from Ireland, Canada, Denmark and England came up with a fantastic solution for Barefeet that addresses these challenges. They created a way to provide a global virtual platform for Barefeet to not only present their drumming and theatre but also generate revenue. They have since booked online presentations to international clients, and as a result of the TIE project, are developing a partnership with Airbnb Online Experiences. This new way forward will help the organization continue to deliver results-oriented projects when working with some of Zambia’s most underprivileged children, giving them better opportunities for succeeding.
You can check out their case study here.