AN ACCESSIBLE and inclusive festival, delayed for two years by the pandemic, left children and families smiling and serene last week.
The inaugural ‘Be You’ festival by Tunbridge Wells-based This Is Us dance company finally found its moment to bring families together in a day of low-key and inclusive fun at the Tonbridge campus of North Kent College.
This Is Us co-director and co-organiser of the event Jan Cockburn said: “Festivals are often avoided by families if there is someone with needs within the family.
“However, ‘Be You’ hopes to change that. We want to celebrate all individuals and give them a platform to explore their creativity.”
Explaining the mission to bring the arts to those who are often excluded, co-organiser Hannah Rotchell, said: “We all grow from the opportunities we are given and the social experiences that are offered to us.
“We have been running This Is Us for over six years and have recognised the difference the arts can make on many levels.”
Away from the live theatre performances, workshops offered participants a chance to enjoy inclusive dance, poetry, music or signing – but in a smaller group, and always optional.
Breakout spaces included a sensory room, arts and crafts, Lego, and a silent disco.
In the finale, a showcase of singing, dancing and film was performed with British Sign Language interpretation and subdued lighting.
Members of the audience were free to move around, join in with the performance or even leave if they needed to.
Find out more about This Is Us and ‘Be You’ at: ThisIsUsDance.co.uk