Looking Ahead: Investigating Performance Art with Schoolchildren as a Catalyst for Urban Redesign
Authors: Wake, Susan J.
This paper describes the background to a recent and ongoing research project into the effect of
performance art on environmental learning among a group of 8‐10‐year‐old inner‐city schoolchildren who participated in an environmentally‐focused process theatre performance during a recent Fringe Festival in Auckland, New Zealand. As part of this investigation, a student researcher is carrying out a simple codesign process with the schoolchildren, towards making the Auckland cityscape more child‐friendly through urban redesign. Focus groups with the schoolchildren have been conducted and interviews with some key stakeholders (e.g. parents, teacher), as well as analysing school work completed by the children. Early findings indicate that the children revelled in taking part in the whole performance experience, especially due to meeting and talking with adults during the performances. They also have clear, yet naïve, ideas for improving their city, which indicates their interest and concern for it. This included them raising issues such as traffic, dirty and building‐dominated appearance, homeless people and the need for alternative housing and transport. However, while many children claimed the experience has changed their behaviour, they were less clear on the specifics of this and further analysis is planned.