Stage Door News
Ottawa: The North American debut of “The Big Bang Festival” was a rousing success
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
By all accounts the North American debut of Europe’s BIG BANG Festival was a rousing success! On February 17 and 18 the NAC opened its doors to 8000 participants who enjoyed adventures in sound, dozens of shows, performances and sound installations dreamed up by artists from here and abroad in celebration of the joy of creativity.
The BIG BANG is one of the most successful children’s festivals in Europe, and Ottawa is the first city in North America to bring this innovative art program to life. The approach is entirely different to what most parents and children will expect. The festival builds on the legacy of Wouter Van Looy, who founded this wildly successful and innovative children’s music festival in 1995 as a platform for artistic contemporary music programming specifically for children.
For two full days, the NAC transformed its’ public spaces into adventurous musical labyrinths where children were able to experience colourful musical programs. From the performance halls to the new public spaces to the backstage area, spectators explored the building’s nooks and crannies and enjoyed a host of activities and extraordinary artistic offerings.
Families were able to participate in an interactive show dedicated to Miles Davis, watch a concert led by Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Centre Orchestra while the puppeteer Marcelle Hudon made shadow theatre magic, dance to a lively fanfare before bouncing around on big yellow cushions called “pneumaphones” that made peculiar sounds.
But the fun didn’t stop there, with an amazing lineup featuring more than 80 artists and performers, parents and children aged 5 to 12 were never short on exciting things to do!
“The North American premier of the BIG BANG Festival attracted ecstatic children and families who eagerly took part in an atmosphere of total celebration of music and discovery. The artists included—over 80 talented people— who proved just how relevant, resonant and colourful art for young audiences can be,” said Mélanie Dumont, the Festival programmer and the Director of the NAC's French Theatre’s Enfance/Jeunesse programming. “We look forward to seeing everyone again next year on February 16 and 17, 2020, for the second edition of Ottawa’s Big Bang Festival!”
BIG BANG Festival Ottawa by the Numbers:
· 18 sold out shows
· 87% attendance for all ticketed shows
· 450 balloons in the public space at the NAC
· 8000 feet (2440 m) of colourful decorative ribbon
· 1500 temporary tattoos applied
· 300 art hunters
· 80 artists
· 18 backstage micro-concerts
· 10 Youth ambassadors who participated in the Big Bang making new friends, learning how to conduct media interviews, and sharing knowledge as official spokespeople about the festival with the thousands of guests who visited the National Arts Centre for the festival
· 10 Indigenous youths participated in a production led by Metis artist Moe Clark
About the BIG BANG Festival:
The BIG BANG is one of the most successful children’s festivals in Europe. It explores the fascinating world of music, sound and the arts, through a variety of activities and performances. The festival builds on the legacy of Wouter Van Looy, who founded the OORSMEER children’s music festival in 1995 as a platform for artistic modern music programming specifically for children. Zonzo Company, the organization behind OORSMEER, gathered six European partners and in 2010 formed BIG BANG - the European music festival for young and adventurous audiences.
Since 2010, BIG BANG yearly takes place in Brussels (Bozar), Lisbon (Centro Cultural de Belém), Stavanger (Stavanger Konserthus) and Lille (Opéra de Lille). From 2014 onwards, BIG BANG also conquers Antwerp (deSingel) and takes off to Athens (Onassis Cultural Centre, Hamburg (KinderKinder) and Sevilla (Instituto de la cultura y las artes de Sevilla). In 2018-2019, ten cities presented their version of the BIG BANG Festival.
Bringing BIG BANG to the NAC grew out of the NAC’s relationship with Zonzo Compagnie, a Belgian music/theatre company for young audiences founded by Van Looy. Over the past few years, the NAC has presented some of its shows, including Listen to the Silence about the music of John Cage, and Slumberland, which explores the world of dreams and the night.