Meaningful Co-Design Across Audience And Community

Heidi Murphy and Kate Green - Big Dreamers Festival

A session on our learnings around co-design and children’s theatre. In 2019, we ran a 6-month engagement programme that supported children (aged 5-10) from low income areas in designing their own workshop programmes, building trust with an arts worker, and supporting young audience members in coming to the theatre for the first time.

Simultaneously we ran an intensive co-design week with students (aged 17-18), giving them complete ownership over programming a day of outdoor arts in Worcester City Centre.

In total, 354 young people engaged.

Key successes included: groups of young people attending the theatre for the first time and planning to come back; street art workshops where young people created murals in their community; a day of mixed outdoor theatre including small performances and large interactive exhibitions.

We found that authentic co-design that genuinely gives power to young people can support young people in feeling empowered across their lives and positively impact their relationship to their community, even over a short time period. However, it’s important that theatre makers understand that what is a ‘win’ for participants may not always match up with the change that theatre makers would like to see.

This session will be followed by some short activities where attendees will be asked to consider co-design within their own work.

  • Worcester, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Programme Type: Seminar
  • Duration (minutes): 60
  • Ages: All Ages (Professional Content,Aimed Towards Adults)
  • Release Date: May 19, 2022
  • Language: English
  • Tags: facilitation, festivals, identity, monitoring & evaluation, participatory

You will only see a 30 second trailer of this content until the Release Date and Time listed above. At the designated time, the full content will become available for viewing at any time until the online event closes.


Heidi MURPHY BEM, Creative Producer
Kate GREEN, Associate Producer


Heidi MURPHY BEM is a Scottish theatre maker, youth worker, and producer based in the West Midlands (England). She is the founder and producer of Big Dreamers Festival and oversees the programme’s artistic vision. She is an associate of the Institute of Place Management, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and was named in the Queen’s New Years Honours in 2019 for Services to Education.

Kate GREEN joined the team soon after leaving university where she studied Theatre Studies. She has also worked with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Out of Joint Theatre Company. Her role is focused around ensuring safe and effective community partnership.

Big Dreamers Festival is a festival for families and young audiences in Worcester. We are a small festival, with a team of 3 part time staff and are dependent on project to project funding. Since 2018 we have engaged over 2000 families in the small city of Worcester and are committed to safe and inclusive access to all.