City of Dreams at the Lumiere Conference 2019

The 2019 Lumiere festival lit up Durham this autumn.

On Friday 15th November festival organisers hosted the Lumiere Conference, with City of Dreams deligthed to be among the speakers.

Organised by Artichoke, in partnership with the Learning Curve Group the 2019 Lumiere Conference took inspiration from the findings of the Durham Commission on Creativity in Education. Over the course of an enlightening and motivating day the conference played host to special panels, debates, key note speeches and breakout workshops exploring the importance of creativity in children and young people’s lives and education.

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The line of up speakers brough a rnage of perspectives to the day. Sir Nicholas Serota (chair Arts Council England) provided a key note overview. Andria Zafirakou (winner 2018 Global Teacher Prize) discussed her experience of teaching for and with creativity. Toby Ealden (Director of Zest Theatre), poet Kate Clanchy and designer Dan Shorten shared learning from their exciting arts projects with young people. Tom McLeish (University of York) and Rachel Armstrong (Newcastle University) gave insights from their research and experiments in natural philosophy and architecture.

Professor Simon James (Durham University) summarised the national picture and hopes for the future in his rile as Principle Investigator for the Durham Commission.

City of Dreams Executive Producer, Ben Dickenson, took part in a panel discussion about Unlocking Children’s Creativity,lumiere pres snip 2 alongside Jacqui O’Hanlon (Director of Education at the RSC) and Jillian Barker, (Director of Learning and Participation at the Royal Opera House).

Drawing on the findings from two years of Big Culture Conversations with over 2000 5-25year olds, and learning from City of Dreams programmes and partners, Ben offered 4 contentions or provocations that might be used to shape successful creative engagement with children and young people.

Using evidence from consultation and programme engagement he proposed that enabling agency and choice was essential to both sustained participation and learning outcomes. Based on the success of City of Dreams summer activities in 2019, he argued thlumiere pres snip 5at “making” was key to positive engagement.  Utilising psychological research and theory, alongside experience in projects like Our City Our Story he suggested story making and telling had a special place in any creative participation programme. Finally, Ben highlighted the major socio-economic barriers preventing many children and young people taking part in cultural programme and creative learning, suggesting “inequality rules, so we must work to change the rules”.

The conference was a fantastic event, providing a chance to share practical experience from across the country and highlight the challenges facing educators, organisations and artists as we try to make creative engagement and learning a right for all. 

Find out more by reading Ben’s presentation here, and look our for our seminars, events and conferences in 2020.

We’re always keen to talk so feel free to contact us anytime.



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