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See how DreamBIG Children's Festival has changed throughout the years.

Voice 13

DreamBIG 2023 saw children around South Australia explore the theme of ‘Our World’ across more than 70 events.

Highlights included celebrating 40 years of Mem Fox’s iconic picture book through Monkey Baa’s Possum Magic, being transported back in time with Erth’s Prehistoric World, and Characters, and exploring other people’s experiences through international works Removed and We Come From Far Far Away.

The festival featured some amazing interactive installations, including Patch Theatre’s Sea of Light, Artbomb’s Fluffy and Characters, and interactive puppetry exhibition by local puppet maker Elias Ppiros. DreamBIG also joined in on the Adelaide Festival Centre’s 50th anniversary celebrations, asking students around the state to depict what they would like the world to be like on their 50th birthday.

Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 100,000 children, educators and families delved into their curiousity as part of the 2021 DreamBIG Festival, responding to the theme of ‘Be Curious’. The festival took audience members into Alison Lester’s Magic Beach, inside black holes in Windmill Theatre Co’s Creation Creation, on intimate dance parties with Restless Dance Theatre’s Ecoute pour Voir, and on a bus journey around the streets of Adelaide in The Narrator. Children created their own creatures in Terrapin’s Infinite Monster, sprawling cityscapes with artist Kathy Holwoko in Wild City, and experienced math, fun and mayhem in Ping, Pong Wow.  At the Opening Event, 1200 children grooved to a performance by Mitch Tambo, and the Mighty Choir of Small Voices sang David Bowie’s Space Oddity. The 2021 Big Family Weekend moved back to its original home at the Adelaide Festival Centre, welcoming families to a day filled with shows, entertainment, workshops, activities, Fork in the Park and some amazingly beautiful weather.

Gruffalos, robots, puppies, bears, giraffes, silent discos and more entertained thousands of South Australian children as part of DreamBIG Children’s Festival 2019. With more than 100 shows, exhibitions and workshops on offer it gave young audiences the chance to sing, dance, paint, listen, watch, laugh and learn as part of the world’s longest running children’s festival. Glorious sunshine greeted 2000 children for the opening event on Wednesday, May 22. Even with a bit of rain, Big Family Weekend attracted 25,000 attendees and entertained families with its free events along the North Terrace during the two-day event.

In 2017 the theme was 'Feed The Mind' and over 110,000 children and their families participated in the Festival. The opening event had 1,800 students singing the newly composed 'Dream Big' song as they walked underneath parachutes that had been designed by 15 regional schools. Festival highlights included the award-winning Jump First, Ask Later; Mr Stink; Tetris and Indigenous Hip Hop Projects, who spent a week with the community at Coober Pedy Area School and created a song and video. These were among many great experiences including, for the 33,000+ children and their families who attended the Big Family Weekend, age-specific trails of wonder with free arts activities at Adelaide Festival Centre and along the North Terrace Arts Precinct. 

The Come Out Children’s Festival came under the direction and management of Adelaide Festival Centre and ran from 22 – 30 May, 2015. The festival was an enormous success and generated the largest amount of general public sales in its history. Overall attendances were over 100,000 across the state including 25,000 attending a Big Family Weekend at the Adelaide Festival Centre and surrounds. The opening event for the Festival – A Bridge Across Time – featured 1,700 school children singing ‘Eagle Rock’ on the River Torrens footbridge and the ACH “Sing for Joy” choirs, made up of people aged 60 – 80, responding in song from the other side of the footbridge, singing songs from today.

The Mighty Choir of Small Voices returned and students performed 'Be the Best I Can'. The Future Gardens statewide project invited students and classes to create a future garden at their school, with gardens exhibited at the Adelaide Festival Centre during the festival. The Dreaming Gallery gave students the opportunity to write or draw their dream for the future then see their work exhibited on the Come Out website.

Highlights included Play Me I’m Yours, 20 pianos installed around the Adelaide CBD for the general public to play; and The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik by Weeping Spoon Productions. The Mighty Choir of Small Voices unified children from around the state in song.

One of the most significant collaborations for the festival was Children’s Cheering Carpet – Saltbush by Compagnia TPO (Italy) and Come Out Festival. The other highlight of Come Out Festival 2009 was Freaky, a collaboration between Come Out Festival, Circus Monoxide (NSW) and Cirkidz (SA).

Come Out Festival returned to the Adelaide Festival Centre for the first time in many years and saw the development of a Come Out Hub as a focus for activities.

Artistic Director Sally Chance themed the Festival 'The Universal Story' and brought together a diverse program including Playground which saw schools create their own unique Play Ground. 

The Festival presented over 60 events and 630 individual performances/sessions. The commitment to indigenous program content was cemented with two new indigenous commissions for the 2005 Festival.

Bushfire, a contemporary performance work marking the 20th anniversary of the Ash Wednesday bush fires was a highlight. The production was enhanced by the opportunity for school audiences to take part in Rising from the Ashes, a related visual arts program lead by Jacqui Hunter

This was one of the biggest festivals yet and featured many of Australia’s best arts companies. Among the new commissions was The Dreamed Life of Nora Shaharazade, based on the personal experience of playwright Mia Tornquist.

The Come Out Festival name was re-introduced and the festival celebrated 25 years of presenting arts for and by young people. The festival presented a diverse all-Australian program of theatre and dance, film and technology, music and visual art.

A name change occurred and Come Out Festival became Take Over 97. The core program consisted of 9 international companies – a total of 16 countries were represented in the festival. These included Kevin Lock, a Native American Indian who presented Dream Catcher; and I Wayan Wija presenting Indonesian shadow-puppetry in Tantri. An Opening Parade attracted an estimated 9,000 participants and a large number of activities directly involving school children.

The Cars That Ate Paris by the Northern Rivers Performing Arts and directed by Lyndon Terracini, a rock musical with pyrotechnics, stunts, racing cars and ferals was the main highlight.A program dedicated to 18-25 year olds was introduced called 1st Site involving around 15 different companies from South Australia and interstate.

The ‘Serious Fun and Stretching Boundaries’ theme was embraced by a core program headlined by performances such as Two Weeks with the Queen. Other major shows included Jumbuck Theatre’s Escape of the Chrysalids.

Themed 'Designing Our Future', highlights included the internationally renowned Tjupukai Aboriginal Dance Theatre, and Dance North’s Desert Magic, both from Queensland; and the exquisite production of Bekkannko-Oni.

A significant Aboriginal arts program was presented for the first time, the highlight of which was The New Dreaming, a performance piece devised by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people.

Allwrite! attracted the international guest Roald Dahl, conducted young writers’ workshops and ran the Come Out Press.

The spotlight shone on collaboration between professional artists and young people. The festival was mounted simultaneously with the Ninth World Congress and General Assembly of ASSITEJ (International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People).

Highlights of the festival were the production of the commissioned youth opera Frankie and Taking Flight presented with the assistance of the Australian Dance Theatre.

The festival adopted the theme ‘Youth and Age’ with a view to exploring the past, present and future within several of the projects. For the first time, the festival included a significant literature program, Allwrite!

Three overseas companies were included in the theatre program and nine new Australian plays were created by local and interstate companies.

Come Out 1983 saw the state divided into 11 country regions, each with its own arts committee. The Constitutional Museum and the Zoo became involved as did interstate companies for the first time. Come Out produced the large scale music theatre piece The Labours of Hercules

The Over to Youth program was introduced, whereby schools were invited to put forward innovative original productions which Come Out then mounted in professional venues across the city. For the first time Come Out produced a work – a significant step in the history of this developmental festival. 

This year's festival saw the inclusion of all major professional companies in Adelaide and the emergence of Ariette Taylor’s remarkable Filthy Children. It was still very much a local arts festival, with no company’s invited from interstate or overseas.

The Australian Dance Theatre became involved in the festival and the State Theatre Company of South Australia presented a major production in the Space Theatre. Come Out goes Country was established where five regional committees were set up to encourage arts activities in regional areas throughout South Australia.

Come Out ‘75 was very much a local festival and almost a free one, with ticket prices no more than 50 cents. A series of workshops and performances was presented by local, professional and amateur companies in a small number of venues throughout the city.

In 1974 the Youth Program Committee of the Adelaide Festival of Arts mounted a limited program of workshops and performances for young people as part of the festival. The program was called Come Out.

Encouraged by the success of the venture, the Committee successfully put a case to the Board of Governors of the Adelaide Festival of Arts for the mounting of a separate arts festival for young people in the years between the main festival.

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