Barefeet Theatre is an NGO built by a team of artists to share their creative disciplines with young people, with the sole purpose of bringing about change and human development. They are an outward looking cultural movement founded in Zambia in 2006 by a group of Zambian and Irish artists who met by chance (some would say fate), and began to collaborate creatively together, delivering theatre workshops with children living on the streets. The workshops were a great success, and many children came off the streets and into the Children’s Centres as a direct result of engaging in the workshops.
Barefeet Theatre is committed to contributing to the development of the children living on the streets, previously on the streets or at risk of going to the streets of Zambia, into physical, healthy, cognitively and socially competent young people. Through the theatre for development methods of play, creativity and self-expression, Barefeet offers these children opportunities for divergent thinking and encourages them to believe in their own capacity to be creative and make positive life choices. Many of the Barefeet members have themselves lived on the streets and grown up in the very Children Centres that they now deliver workshops in, acting as fantastic inspirational role models for the children and youth they work with.
Over the years, Barefeet has grown organically, adapting to the opportunities that have been presented to them, and always maintaining a strong focus on their history and identity. Throughout this journey, the complexity of the organisation’s work and its reach among vulnerable children in Zambia have grown in tandem. They have been able to attract the interest of a number of key supporters who also realise the transformative potential of using creative arts to reach out and extend a protective arm around vulnerable children in Zambia.
Their biggest challenge is difficulty in getting new funding. In their early years, Barefeet was fortunate to have many people believe in their ambition, and as such getting funding wasn’t as hard a task as it is today, due to factors such as the economy in Zambia and a considerable reduction in funding for the arts. This is aggravated by the fact that their current communications strategy does not thoroughly convey all the work that they do nowadays, a portfolio which keeps getting bigger as they venture into new activities in Zambia and abroad.
To address this challenge, this placement with Barefeet will help them create a new long term marketing strategy that reflects where they currently stand as an organisation and their current portfolio of activities, with a view to attracting new funders and donors. This revamped strategy will also work as one of the tools to ensure their financial sustainability in the years ahead.
BBH London are sending Alice Walker on TIE in 2020 to work with Barefeet Theatre on this project. You can learn more about her here.