Children and their families from across the region are celebrating the return this week of a festival that encourages curiosity, learning and creativity by promoting reading for pleasure.
The Big Malarkey took a Covid-enforced break during 2020 but is now beginning a new chapter at East Park with a week of activities dedicated to schools in the city, followed by a weekend of events that are open to the public.
All the activities will be socially distanced and the school and family festival is once again supported by the regional business community.
Scarborough-based McCain Foods has sponsored the schools programme, which includes arts and crafts, storytelling, dance sessions and more tailored to children form nursery level to Key Stage 2.
Sponsors of the public programme on Saturday and Sunday include Sewell Facilities Management and HEY Credit Union.
In addition Crown Paints has supplied materials to Hull-based creative agency Drunk Animal, which has worked with local schools on decorating the scrim at the festival site.
The Big Malarkey was launched in 2017 by Hull Libraries and earned rave reviews from children, teachers and parents as it attracted nearly 20,000 people to work with writers, artists, musicians, poets and other performers over the first three years.
Ellen Bianchini, festival director, said: “After missing out in 2020 we’ve worked hard to find a safe way to deliver the festival this year and to introduce a bit more fun into our lives, so the programme we’re creating is, more than ever, centred around playfulness, discovery and simple joys like listening to live music.
“Every year the safety of our audience, team and staff is a priority but this year we’re working to make our family friendly site in East Park even safer for everyone. The festival will be a socially distanced event and it might feel a bit different from previous years, but we’re confident that we can offer the same quality experience that families have enjoyed in the past.
“We’re delighted that some of our previous business partners have also returned and that some new supporters have come on board. Their backing makes a big difference to the scale and quality of what we are able to provide and we hope very much that their support will continue and will encourage other businesses to come on board.”
Martin Stead, managing director of Sewell Facilities Management, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the Big Malarkey this year to help promote and encourage children’s love of reading and sharing stories.
“For decades, we’ve worked in schools across the region and have always been passionate about supporting them in giving every pupil the best possible chance to succeed in life, literacy being a vital part of this.
“We love being involved with charities, events and organisations who share our belief in the power of literacy to improve aspirations and outcomes for children and young people to encourage curiosity, learning and creativity.”
John Smith, chief executive of HEY Credit Union, said: “As a not-for-profit financial co-operative for people in Hull, East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire we see the Big Malarkey as a great opportunity for us to expand on our work with communities, where we help families to afford their lives and improve their financial well-being.
“Credit unions are passionate about encouraging young people to develop an early savings habit, so that they enter adult life with a good attitude to money and become financially independent. We run school banks and support money life skills, and we are proud to sponsor the Big Malarkeywith its impressive range of activities.”
Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, chairman of Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “We are delighted that local business are supporting the language and literacy development of young people in the city. We know that by providing the wonderful range of activity on offer at The Big Malarkey children their curiosity and creativity will be sparked, inspiring them to go on to want to learn and read more for fun, key skills in a rapidly changing world for our future leaders and employees.”