Mapping TYA in Latin America

Keynote - KROKUS FESTIVAL - Think Local, Create Global

febuary 2019


By Bebe de Soares 

What is ‘Latin America’? 

According to Wikipedia, Latin America consists of 20 countries and 13 dependencies, which covers an area that stretches from the northern border of Mexico to the southern tip of South America, including the Caribbean. It has an area of a little over 19 million square km, almost 13% of the Earth’s land surface area. As of 2016, its population was at more than 650 million.


In a more literal definition, which is close to the semantic origin, Latin America designates countries in the Americas where a Romance language (a language derived from Latin) predominates: Spanish, Portuguese, French, and the creole languages based upon these. In this definition, Quebec classifies as part of Latin America.

What about Latin American Culture? 

One needs to realize though that having a similar language does not mean we all share the same culture. We are a young continent, but our roots come from far older traditions, our original indigenous cultures are of great diversity and combined with the European culture brought by immigrants and later African cultures during slavery produced a unique cultural melting pot.


When we talk about Latin American culture, we speak about a category that stretches over a wide range of topics that together embed the character and personality of the civilization(s) it represents. This region deserves to be defined on its own terms, beyond dismissive stereotypes, rather than being known simply as the less-well known, poor neighbor of the USA.


Talking about stereotypes. I also often read that Latin American culture is known for its passion. I would definitely say, the warmth of our people is part of everything we do, and this reflects in the work our artists create for young audiences.

Internationalization – the voice of Latin America abroad 

My task here today is to present to you concrete opportunities to travel to our distant continent so you can feel the smells, taste the food, dive in the landscapes while watching work made by local artists inside the cultural environment they were created. I assure you – this will make the whole difference!


No easy task I must admit!


I divided the information according to some parameters.


∙ International festivals that also present local shows, as well as companies that already have established international connections.

∙ Regional festivals outside the main cities but with strong regional program where one can find artists deeply rooted in the local culture with a surprising universal appeal, so definitely interesting for an international public.

∙ I also included actual spaces open to international collaborations, residencies and co-productions, as I consider vital those opportunities of really experiencing in a longer period the ways of the land and the artistic processes.


Of course, some countries offer more opportunities than others do. I would say Brazil, Chile and Mexico have now the most festivals and showcases prepared to receive international visitors, with a good presence online where one can plan a visit with confidence. Do not be shy of combining a visit with a holiday! If you come all the way down to Santiago de Chile for FITA CHILE this November, you might as well combine with a visit to the Atacama Desert. I am certain most of the festival producers will be more than happy to assist you here as well!


As many of you know, through the years, I have shifted from bringing mostly European work to Brazil and Chile to become an advocate and voice for the work made in Latin America, pressing to broaden the geographical playfield in markets and festivals abroad. Researching for this presentation, even I was surprised to find out the number of festivals in the region! I was a tough decision to make as which I should select to present! I decided to speak more thoroughly about the festivals I personally know and that I consider will bring the most for an international presenter – which brings us to FITA CHILE.

FITA CHILE – Feria Iberoamericana TeVeo Assitej Chile


In November of 2017, TeVeo ASSITEJ Chile started FITA CHILE - la Feria Iberoamericana Teveo ASSITEJ Chile, a biennial market for performing arts for children and young audiences. The showcase specially developed so programmers from all over the world can travel to Santiago to see a significant number of work from across Ibero-America, in the original cultural environment the work was created, in a short period. This greatly benefits all companies, as it has made it much easier for all of them, not only from Chile, but also from all around Latin America, to present their work to international presenters.


It was a success. A great example of the companies invited to show their work abroad is Silencio Blanco from Chile who presented a pitch of their work “Chiflon…” at FITA CHILE to a handful of presenters – one of them being Gerhard Verfaille. You see, this is a story with a happy ending! But most importantly the fair was an opportunity for individuals to meet and get to know fellow artists and presenters from different parts of Ibero-America and the world.


A showcase for Dance, Circus and Theater, sponsored by the National Council of Culture and the Arts, by ProChile and organized by the Te Veo Assitej Chile and Amazonas Network.


We move on to Brazil – There are a number of well-established festivals you can easily plan a visit.



FIL - FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE PESQUISA DE LINGUAGENS was born, in 2003, in the city of the Rio de Janeiro. A pioneer multidisciplinary festival aimed at new audiences in the city, from its origin, it mixes the scenic, digital and audiovisual languages with the contemporary visual arts, pointing to things that do not yet have a name.


FIL became international in 2005, with France being the first country to engage in the proposal of exchanges between artists, shows, residences, co-productions and co-creations. Its geography has expanded over its 16 years of uninterrupted activities.


FIL acts as the “Brazilian ambassador to the young public” in various parts of the world, and builds partnerships with ministries and consulates of every continent. FIL is an associated festival with MOMIX in Kingesheim for instance. Part of the program is a competitive festival for young local artist sponsored by Petrobras and the winner presents the work at MOMIX festival.


Karen Accioly is the inventor and director of the festival. The next edition will be in October 2019.


Moving on from Rio to São Paulo, I would like to present two festivals that are produced by two companies that have been present in the city for the past 30 years.




Considered, internationally, one of the greatest Brazilian exponents of the Theater of Animation, since 1986 it has been developing a continuous work that involves the presentation of shows, realization and curation of Festivals and events, as well as different activities of formation and diffusion of the Theater of Animation.


Headquarters of the Group since 2009, o ESPACO SOBREVENTO is the only space in São Paulo entirely dedicated to the Theater of Animation.


More than a simple workshop, the space includes a showroom, library, newspaper library and video library specialized in Puppet Theater, as well as an area for confection, training and improvement for puppeteers. In addition, Espaço Sobrevento also hosted three Editions of the Sobrevento International Weeks of Theater of Animation and seven editions of the International Festival for theater for babies – Mostra Primeiro Olhar.


Since 2010, SOBREVENTO has been focusing its research on the Theater of Objects and also theater for babies – The company has an ongoing collaboration with La Casa Incierta from Spain and the Italian Antonio Catalano and has developed work with several Brazilian and international artists, for instance Agnes Limbos from Belgien.



First Look is an international festival for theater for babies conducted by GRUPO SOBREVENTO since 2011. The festival proposes a new look at the child and the art created for the first childhood. The 8th edition will happen in August 2019 in the city of Sao Paulo.


Which brings us to the next group from Sao Paulo – the PAIDEIA CULTURAL ASSOCIATION 




The Paideia Cultural Association is a cultural space located in a public space in the city of São Paulo and managed by Paideia Theater Company. The space consists 2 theaters, a studio with seating capacity that functions as a cinema, a convivial large space for workshops and performances, a café to receive the public besides a space for building sets and the offices for the association.


One has to imagine that everything that goes on in Paideia’s headquarters is populated by dozens of young people, children and their families from the neighborhood of Santo Amaro –In Paideia, friends and relatives, neighbors, admirers and artists are mingled on the stage, in the kitchen, in the office, in the production areas. Inclusion through art, inclusion and diversity, concepts so fashionable nowadays, have been the basis of Paideia since its inception.


What could be mistaken as mainly a social work from Paideia is actually paired by rigorous artistic quality on everything they do. Just recently, both the company and the young ensemble of Paideia have been nominated and won the highest critics award in the city of Sao Paulo in 2018.


As examples of Paideia’s international collaborations, they count with the support of the Goethe Institute on a joint project with the Grips Theater for 5 years, Lutz Theater Hagen and just celebrated a new long-term project with the Junges Theater Dusseldorf.




The Festival creates a space of visibility for the theatrical scene of São Paulo, which goes beyond the mere coexistence of groups. It is an important moment of artistic exchange between companies and national and foreign artists, mediated by the possibility of attending each other, and stimulated by the tables and debates, which gives concreteness and depth to these exchanges. In 2019 the Festival reaches its XIII edition and the dates are 20 to 24th of September.


Last but not least I would like to mention a festival that takes place in a different region that usually gets attention only for its stunning beaches -

TIC – Festival Internacional de Teatro Infantil do Ceará – FORTALEZA


Born in 2011, TIC - Festival of Children’s Theater of Ceará, opens the curtains of the beautiful city of Fortaleza for children’s shows, with more than a week of programming for the family. In its 8th edition in 2018, TIC offered free of charge more than 50 artistic activities, gathering attractions that escape the standards and models imposed by the mass culture.


The festival develops the program according to one theme, for instance diversity, presenting Latin-American shows and local production from the North East region of Brazil, which makes it quite interesting to attend. During one week 15 groups present their work, besides all sorts of acivities for children and their families and also for professionals in round tables, seminars.

CHILE - Institutional support as a differential 

There are several opportunities to come to Chile and see work, a number of festivals throughout the year in different regions, North and south. An important information for all presenters here is that Chilean artists have the possibility to get institutional support to travel abroad with their productions. These mobility funds are crucial and allow so many Chilean companies to present their work in marketplaces as IPAY, FETEN and theaters in all continents.




FamFest is an international festival for the whole family that takes place every year in during the winter break in July in Santiago de Chile. It is produced and promoted by Teatro Mori which is a private group that administers 4 theaters in Santiago.


The festival will have its 12th edition in 2019 and is to my knowledge, the largest purely dedicated to young audiences in Latin America. For almost 3 weeks every year around 20 national and 8 to 12 international companies are invited to show their work, which involves practically all theatres in the Capital and around it.


Started in 2018, the Expo Escena Familiar which is an encounter for national and international programmers with panels, discussions and networking events. This will happen every 2 years for 4 days during the festival and is paired with a showcase of local and international work.


I would like to mention 2 other festivals here, one in the south and the other in the north of Chile. The capital Santiago concentrates almost half of the countries population, consequently, most investment and cultural infrastructure. There has been an effort for descentralization for cultural goods and there is a growing importance for regional festivals that is worth keeping an eye on.



FITICH, Itinerant Theater Festival by Chiloé Profundo is an artistic-cultural event, which from 2010 to date (always in November) takes the local, national and international performing arts to the most remote places of the Chiloé Archipelago. Theater, dance and music arrive to overcome distances and adverse climates, bringing a cultural contribution to the region, which already constitutes an entire heritage.


Every year national and international companies travel through the sky, sea and land to be part of this party within the chilota territory with its magic, mythology and traditions.


Produced by the Red Capanegra that is active all year around, giving home to the Center for Residency and Artistic Research, CRIA Chiloé, and is located in the Los Lagos Region, on the large island of Chiloé. Capanegra aims to promote and enhance cultural exchange through artistic and research projects, national and international .


The director of Red Capanegra and the FITICH festival is Gabriela Recabarren.



International Festival of Performing Arts in the Atacama Desert.


The goal of the festival is to create an event where professionals from the performing arts, national and foreign, of great experience, meet in the driest desert in the world in order to hold seminars, residences, shows, exhibitions and barter.


The vision is to position the Region of Antofagasta and the Atacama Desert as the cultural capital of Northern Chile, contributing to the decentralization of the country, enhancing the cultural development, integration and internationalization of the Region, supported by an inspiring geography. Alejandra Rojas is the artistic director of the festival.




ENARTES is a Mexican conference of multidisciplinary performing arts. The last edition was held for 5 days in October 2018 in Mexico city. The festival presents theater, dance, circus ,street performances, interdisciplinary works, and also for the first time included performances for children and young audiences in 2018, programing 10 performances for this audience.


ENARTES aims to become a reference on the current affairs of the performing arts in Mexico. Cultural promoters, festival directors and cultural directors meet, among other things, to network and discover the Mexican and international productions available for touring.


Since 2003 this has been a key international forum for specialists and professionals in the performing arts. Its mission is to create a platform that encourages national and international mobility of performing arts professionals. Enartes also seeks to encourage dialogue and the creation of collaborative networks among the meeting’s participants; promote the professionalization of groups as sustainable cultural enterprises; and foster the presentation of innovative performances.



FITPA Festival Internacional de Teatro para los Primeros Años – International festival of Theatre for the Early Childhood is a project supported by the National Fund for Culture and the Arts of Mexico and takes place in the city of Guadalajara.


Organized by A la Deriva Teatro, it is the perfect festival if your focus is early childhood. You will be able to see the most prominent companies from Latin America and get involved in discussions, panels and seminars.


The director of the festival is Suzana Romo Morales.



There are a great number of festivals in Cuba, but for our sector perhaps the most interesting is the largest – Festival de La Habana.




The International Theater Festival of Havana is a biennial event and its next edition will be held in September 2019. The festival includes a section with shows for young audiences, with room for seminars, workshops, conferences and colloquia. The National Council of Performing Arts, a state cultural institution, organizes it.


The companies and interested persons in attending should send an email to the Presidency of the National Council of Performing Arts ( writing about their interest in participating. The Festival can pay for accommodation and food but not air tickets.


The Cuban Assitej Center is on the process of preparing the conditions to recover their National Theater Festival for Children and Young People with an international presence. Besides the festival, there is the possibility of organizing visits stays and internships, as well as presenting foreign groups in Cuba, with the possibility of organizing a national tour.




FITAZ /FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE TEATRO DE LA PAZ- SInce 1999 the FESTIVAL DE TEATRO DE LAPAZ, FITAZ – suported by the Municipalty and its organizers, this biennial festival has become one of the most important cultural events of the city. The program has shows for adults but also for young audiences and includes over 40 national groups and international program, with a strong representation from


Lateinamerica, 2018 was the 11th edition, also expanding to the inland of the country. The next edition will take place in 2020- the exact dates will be announced during this year. The festival is directed by Maritza Wilde.





The International Festival of Children and Youth Theater for the Construction of New Publics for the Performing Arts, is a project of the CÚCARA-MÁCARA Theater Foundation, a theatrical group made of professionals, founded in 1981. Since then it has been developing work to achieve a worthy space within the theater movement of the Dominican Republic.


The FITIJ is held in November of each year, with the participation of national and foreign shows The festival prioritizes theatrical productions that address issues against exploitation and child abuse, shows about the


rights and duties of children and adolescents, works on gender equality and respect for cultural diversity. The next edition will take place in Santo Domingo from 21st of October to 3rd of November 2019.

NETWORKS around early childhood and TYA  



The Ibero-American Network of Performing Arts for Children and Youth was created in 2005 during the XV ASSITEJ International Congress in Montreal, Canada, as an initiative of the ASSITEJ Centers of Ibero-America. Since then we have been developing various projects that stimulate the development of the Theater for Children and Young People in Spanish and Portuguese.


The new website is being developed and is a great source of information about our sector in Iberoamerica.



This a very interesting network that started not long ago but unites already most of the artists and companies that are doing serious work for the early childhood, so definitely worth following. They do not have a large presence online, but the one blog they have give a surprising amount of information on the companies and the work they have been developing. A refreshing discussion about the concepts and ideas of most of the creators – one can read texts published there to continue building a space for reflection, a map of the ideas and concepts that mobilize the creators of Latin America to work for early childhood. You can also find a database of Creators, Companies, Spaces and Cultural Associations for Early Childhood in Latin America.


I would like to mention information that could be interesting for presenters and artists that was not included for time limitations.



Assitej Uruguay is holding a Festival in the framework of the celebration of International Theater Day for children and young people since 2015, with approximately 5,000 children each year, in five performances at the main theater of the Uruguayan capital, the Solís Theater. This year we will do it on April 29 and 30 to coincide with the CE of Assitej International meeting in Montevideo.The director is Myriam Caprile



During November 2017, the 4th edition of the Spectacular Showcase of Children's Arts will be held in Curitiba. The Mostra is a cultural event for children, between 02 and 08 years old, The Spectacular will feature theater, circus, dance and high quality music that will be scattered throughout the city. The festival programs national and international shows. The program is decentralized throughout the city of Curitiba and happens in various theaters, cultural spaces, squares and parks. The proposal is to move the public and artists in various ways, starting by circulating through different venues for presentations and events. General coordinator is Michele Menezes, also founder of the project.


FENATIF - Feira de Santana, Brazil



Fenatifs was born in 2008 with the desire to contribute to the development and strengthening of theatre for children, adolescents and young people in Brazil. Since then, the festival that takes place from October 1st to 12th has been a space of opportunity for groups from all over Brazil to present their works. The public attending each edition is more than 15,000 spectators, mostly children, adolescents and young students of the public school system.


FENATIFS, which has its date from October 1 to 12, 2019 and presents about 8 national groups, as well as discussion groups, etc., deepening topics such as commitment, formation, culture, education, decentralization, critical reflection, reflection artistic, pluralism, multiplicity of languages and technical quality. These are the differences that make FENATIFS one of the most complete, respected and important theater festival for children and youth in Brazil. The festival is organized by the Cooperative of Theater for Children and Youth of Bahia - Cuca de Teatro and institutional support of the State University of Feira de Santana, through the University Center of Culture and Art - CUCA.




The work of this Collaborative Network and articulator of contemporary dance, is characterized by its scenic quality and by being active agents in the development and professionalization of dance in the territories of Concepción, Valdivia, Puerto Montt and Chiloé. In this second version of the project, the circulation expands to seven regions of the country, supporting the national cultural program between the regions of Valparaíso and Los Lagos, touring different Cultural Centers, building an alliance with different specialized festivals of the southern area and bringing the dance closer to the community through mediation activities.


CASA 38 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Casa 38, located in the district of Humaitá, in Rio de Janeiro, is a meeting, conversation, creation and learning space that brings together art, education and movement through classes and propositions coordinated and taught by the artists (and sisters) Andrea and Bia Jabor.


The program is structured by generative themes that are developed each month in the weekly activity grid of the space, focusing on fathers / mothers-babies, families, children, young people in training and professionals interested in expanding their knowledge and establishing exchanges of experiences and learning. Each month, the House also receives special guests for lectures, meetings, workshops, musical happy hour and performances.


AVE LOLA – Curitiba, Brazil


Created in Brazil, the troupe has expanded into other areas of artistic practice and today has over eight years of solid cultural management experience in the city of Curitiba, Paraná. An independent art space managed entirely by women, Ave Lola hosts professionals from different branches of artistic practice from around the world and stands out among Brazilian theater companies. In addition to this, Ave Lola maintains ongoing


work in the areas of visual arts, artistic development, and audiovisual cultural productions. The troupe currently has over 15 members engaged in various areas of cultural management. It maintains a small independent theater that produces and integrates multiple forms of art.


The artistic director is Ana Rosa Tezza.

Bebe de Soares has a profound knowledge of international cultural exchange in the field of Children's and  Youth Theater and Dance, both from the perspective of the organizer / festival director and from the  perspective of the artist. She is one of the most important voices in Latin America and the main link in most  international forums (EC member Assitej International).  

In addition, due to her work as cultural strategist and agent, she has a great deal of knowledge about the  North American children's / youth theater market and is a board member of IPAY in the USA (the most  important marketplace for North American children's and youth theaters). She also has contacts with China,  Japan and South Korea, regions where she has organized numerous tours and projects as part of her work  with AMAZONAS NETWORK.