Birmingham 2022 Festival and Birmingham Education Partnership presented


was a festival of bold and imaginative arts and culture made with, by and for Children in Birmingham and Sandwell, produced and curated by The Parakeet for the Birmingham 2022 Festival. FLOW places children at the centre of the action as designers, makers and artists, for a captivating multi-artform programme of events throughout the summer of 2022 from 21st May - 20th August.


saw a large-scale, child-built, installation in the magnificent Warley Woods created in collaboration with Woodland Tribe, Cloud Cuckoo Land Theatre and Wildlives Forest School from 21st-30th May 2022.

Children and their families were invited to come and build (yes, we did say build!) their own arts centre, made from recycled wood and their own imaginations! Working together with constructive play experts Woodland Tribe CIC, children were given hammers, saws, nails, and freedom to create an extraordinary woodland arts centre, a space designed to let their imaginations take them wherever they want to go.

At each free, ninety-minute BUILD session children were encouraged to imagine, design and build their own arts venue in Warley Woods in Smethwick in a section of the forest not far from the footpath and within a short distance from the Pavilion. Children became artists and engineers encouraged to make their own decisions about how the structure should develop; whether it’s adding ladders to climb, bridges to cross or stages to perform on. Then using wood and tools the children helped saw, hammer, and assemble the structure.

After the venue was built, children had a chance to become Artists in Residence with Cloud Cuckoo Land and Wildlives Forest School, working alongside artists, designers and performers to inhabit the space and explore the possibilities when you Build Your Own Art Centre. These sessions were interactive, fun and spontaneous, full of music, theatre, making, playing and exploring. Weaving together made-up magic and forest play complete with toasted marshmallows, campfire, songs and storytelling.

This was a very special experience which you can see from this video.

Both the BUILD sessions and the CREATE + EXPLORE activities were free, thanks to funding from the Commonwealth Games and the Foyle Foundation.

Who was involved?

Fresh from their residency at Tate Modern, Woodland Tribe CIC brings a wealth of experience as a non-profit organisation who promotes adventure play and believes in letting children take control of their own play space. Feeding an inherent need for children and families to take control of community space, to play and build together.

Cloud Cuckoo Land collective is an inclusive, inventive, participatory music and theatre group, with their head in the clouds and their feet firmly planted in Brummie soil. They create transformative and imaginative spaces and arts experiences for young people.

Wild Lives Forest School helps people to spend time outside, connect with the natural world, with themselves and with each other and are advocates for play at any age!

Warley Woods Community Trust manages and looks after the woods on behalf of the community. Warley Woods is a 100-acre community park which is a mix of woodland, open meadow, and a golf course, and theTtrust ensures that the park continues to thrive now and for future generations.