Current Project


Project dates: July 2022 - August 2024

A touring mini-festival for 0-4 year olds and their caregivers.

Audience watches performer with stag puppet. Text reads 'Hoopla - a mini festival of ages 0-4'.

Hoopla! was inspired by the success of ‘The Search for Teddy Island’, our project bringing an early-years theatre show to families’ doorsteps during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

The mini-festival is supported by Small Steps Big Changes. It is one of a number of projects commissioned in response to an in-depth consultation with Nottingham families. Families expressed a need for low cost but high-quality, barrier-free art activities in their neighbourhoods.

Children watch puppet show based around a vintage suitcase
Trinkets by Giddy Kipper Theatre. Photo by Lamar Francois.

The touring festival visits Small Steps Big Change’s four priority areas. Each area features highly on the Indices of Multiple Deprivation. These neighbourhoods are also underserved by the city’s cultural institutions. The neighbourhoods are:

  • Bulwell
  • Aspley
  • St Anns
  • Arboretum and Hyson Green
Young girl plays with plastic ring toys
Play on the Forest Recreation Ground. Photo by Lamar Francois.

Events are designed to remove the barriers young families face when trying to access culture in their city. The festival days are free to attend and accessible. They take place in familiar outdoor spaces with good travel links.

2022 Festival

The 2022 Festival was four days of puppetry, music, play and exploration. It featured performances by Handmade Theatre and Giddy Kipper Theatre. They presented high-quality puppet shows specially designed for young children.

Performer shows bird puppet to baby and mother
Woodland puppet busking by Handmade Theatre. Photo by Lamar Francois.

Ignite Futures and Makers of Imaginary World ran multi-sensory creative workshops for our early year’s audience. The festival was also an opportunity for local support services to connect with families.

Children play with pink fabric
Multi-sensory play with Makers of Imaginary Worlds. Photo by Lamar Francois.

2023 Festival

The 2023 Festival attracted bigger audiences across all four locations. Handmade Theatre, Circus Hub Nottingham and Makers of Imaginary Worlds each presented a family-friendly show. They featured delights ranging from puppet birds to aerial acrobatics.

A circus perform dangles from a hoop whilst a mother and child watch
Arial acrobatics by Circus Hub Nottingham. Photo by Lamar Francois.

Between shows, Circus Hub, Makers of Imaginary World, Raisa McClary-Francis and Janet Rose led imaginative interactive workshops. The festival remained an opportunity for local support services to connect with families.

A mother and daughter play with a percussion instrument
Musical play. Photo by Lamar Francois.

Project Team