iSTART Children’s Art Festival is a pioneering creative and social aesthetic programme in China with the mission of children’s participation, empowerment and co-creation. As an important annual art and public programme of A4 Art Museum, iSTART was initiated by A4 Art Museum in 2014, and has been successfully held for 9 times so far. iSTART’s core concept is to build a creative, diversified and beautiful world from children’s perspectives.

iSTART breaks the boundaries of individual museum projects and is committed to building a sustainable network of social participation and art education. iSTART is driven by children’s curiosity for creativity, and every year, it cooperates with a wide range of schools, families, communities, and public welfare partners, and so far, it has covered 34 cities and villages in 23 provinces and 7 countries, and has cooperated with more than 18,000 young artists. In collaboration with more than 1,000 education practitioners, artists, experts, scholars and cross-disciplinary workers, we have developed hundreds of participatory art education programmes, which have transformed the public from observers to participants and then to creators in different cultural backgrounds and situations.

  • 2023 9th iSTART Children's Arts Festival "Infinite Family of Games"

    The ninth annual iSTART Children’s Arts Festival places an annual focus on working with children’s creativity, educational practitioners, and researchers to promote the positive value of play in understanding oneself, human relationships, and the positive value of social action and learning for the growth of children and the larger community. iSTART will strengthen the open-source ecosystem of socialised support in 2023, and promote systematic support for more specific children and communities. Systematic support. Through the incubation of longer-term and iterative children’s, art, and education projects in contemporary society, we seek to explore the infinite possibilities of constructing “play in the home” and “recreation of the home through play” through creative play and art practices.

  • 2022 8th iSTART Children's Art Festival "Museum of Non-Existent Games"

    The 8th iSTART Children’s Art Festival 2022 wants to build a “Museum of Non-Existent Games” from a child’s point of view, with children and their supporters. It is a temporary “museum” full of “wonders”. When you are in it, it is as if you are experiencing a huge game that looks like an exhibition. We try to incorporate hundreds of games created by children, artists and designers, and the stories behind them, to explore the relationship and possibility of integration between “art-play-creation”; we hope that every audience can deeply interact and participate, and travel through history, civilisation and the imagination of life through children’s perspective and wisdom, and see children being influenced by their own imagination. We hope that every audience can interact and participate deeply, travelling through history, civilisation and the imagination of life through the eyes and wisdom of children, seeing the hidden creativity of children, realising the positive value of play, and feeling the joy of co-creation with each other.

  • 2021 7th iSTART Children's Arts Festival "1001 Play Schools"

    The theme of the 7th iSTART Children’s Arts Festival 2021 is “1001 Play Schools”. The festival will focus on the value of play for children and adults to create, learn and connect. The festival will feature several co-curatorial units and special projects, which will be realised by young curators and professional curators. In contrast to previous years, when artists’ exhibitions and children’s exhibitions were held in parallel, this year’s iSTART theme exhibition will deeply integrate the co-creative worlds of artists and children. The exhibition will be open to children and adults to apply for art, education, and self-curated projects, to create and re-imagine ancient and modern “games”; to encourage children, communities, and art creators to set up multiple rules of the game; and to reflect on and promote in a more creative way experiments and actions on play and learning by children, artists, families, schools, and the wider public. Experimentation and action on play and learning for children, artists, families, schools, and the wider public.

  • 2020 6th iSTART Children's Arts Festival "do it" & "Kick-start Action School"

    The 2020 iSTART Children’s Art Exhibition “Action School” continues the 2019 iSTART theme of “Goodbye School, Hello School”. In addition to focusing on “child-centred” art education co-creation projects, it also focuses on how children growing up at home and at school can broaden each other’s horizons through wider social empowerment, and unite with more resources to carry out their own observations, creations and actions.

  • 2019 5th iSTART Children's Arts Festival "Goodbye School, Hello School"

    The “Goodbye School, Hello School” children’s art exhibition returns the topic to the daily scene of children’s life – school, and hopes that through the reflection and imagination of the young curators and artists on their own “school career”, the research project and PBL project will achieve rich expression in the form of design, painting, sculpture, installation, animation and performance theatre. It is hoped that through the reflection and imagination of the young curators and artists on their own “school career”, the research project and PBL project will achieve a rich expression in the form of design, painting, sculpture, installation, animation, performance theatre and so on. At the same time, Luhu-A4 Art Museum opens the sub-venue to schools and urban spaces on the basis of the previous main exhibition venue, trying to let more children carry out “educational reflection” and “reshaping school” practice in their own main venue.

  • 2018 4th iSTART Children's Arts Festival "Childhood Retreat"

    The fourth iSTART Children’s Art Festival focuses on the concept of “childhood”, where the indoor and outdoor spaces of the A4 Gallery are “transformed” by a team of artists, curators, architects and educators into a kind of temporary “sanatorium”. The space is no longer a silent white box, but a complex of therapeutic rooms with different themes.” Childhood Retreat seeks to create a space that links the history of childhood, personal growth and childhood as a social bond between adults and children. The exhibition will be an “exploration of questions”, “an invitation to play” or “an act of healing”. …… We try to bring together creators and connectors in an open dialogue, so that the curiosity of each participant is mobilised by the different thematic rooms in this “sanatorium”. Artists will be transformed into game designers, space managers, and public project initiators, and participants will be introduced to a new way of interacting with each other, pouring out their hearts or exchanging childhood secrets, and rekindling their childlike minds in exchange for new imaginations of the world and themselves. “Childhood Sanatorium” is not only an experiment on the mechanism of art generation, but also a discussion on the natural state of human beings, social shaping and self-redemption.

  • 2017 3rd iSTART Children's Arts Festival "No Big, No Small World"

    The 3rd iSTART Children’s Art Festival is divided into thematic exhibitions, children’s exhibitions and parallel exhibitions. Among them, the theme exhibition “No Big, No Small World” and the children’s exhibition “Another World” attempt to explore the cognitive boundaries between adults and children through cooperation between artists, nearly 1,000 children and educators, and to develop actions and reflections on the perception, healing and constructive values of childhood through artworks and co-creation art programmes. Through artworks and co-creation programmes, the exhibition aims to develop actions and reflections on the perception, healing and construction of the value of childhood.

    The “No Big, No Small World” conceived by the theme exhibition is not only an “intermediate state” between the adult world and the world of children, but also a “roundabout action” to reflect on the adult world through childhood. It is also a “roundabout action” to reflect on the adult world through childhood. By remembering, creating and reshaping their childhood, the artists create an imaginative and problematic site through cooperation with children and the public, and at the same time, they change their creative perspectives (children’s perspective, participant’s perspective) and their roles in life (as parents and teachers), so as to pay attention to the possibility of the childhood culture and the state of being a child in stimulating the potential of creativity for themselves and their surroundings again. …… In the children’s exhibition “Another World”, whether it is the “GaGa Cosmic Republic” conceived by hundreds of children, or “The Grocery Store” that explores the theme of death, or the animated game that uses the sense of touch to create a new world, the exhibition will be an important part of the children’s exhibition. Or the “Art Without Barriers” project, which activates visually impaired and autistic children through tactile animation and games …… All of them allow us to enter a more concrete child’s heart and a more unfamiliar world through one children’s community after another.

  • 2015 2nd iSTART Children's Arts Festival "Curious as a Child"

    The theme of the second iSTART Children’s Art Festival is “iDEAL WORLD”, which means “Incredible World”, and it focuses on the world of children by encouraging artists and children to re-understand and create fairy tales together.

    The theme exhibition focuses on the world of children, encouraging artists and children to re-understand and re-create fairy tales together. iSTART team tries to create an interactive space for children to both read and experience, and to expand their artistic perspectives through a wide range of modular exhibitions and fairy tale themed displays.

    Nearly 1,000 children, artists, dramatists, animators, architects and educators were invited to create a series of paintings, animations, theatre, video and installations, which combine to create a space that is both static and dynamic.

    Whether the audience is in the wonderful warm theatre exhibition hall, the “magic mirror” space which is both real and illusionary, the giant tree which gives birth to the “wonderland”, or enjoying the colourful works made by every child, they will all wonder at the infinite possibilities given to us by children and the fairy tale world. The world of children and fairy tales gives us infinite possibilities.

  • 2014 First iSTART Children's Art Festival

    In 2014, A4 consolidated several years of experience in children’s exhibitions and public education programmes, and launched the first iSTARI Children’s Art Festival in collaboration with artists, universities and educational institutions. iSTARI focuses on childhood perspectives, children’s empowerment and social co-creation. The word “iSTART” also means “from every little individual, from every little idea”. The lowercase initial “” is a metaphor for children at the budding stage of their lives, as well as the seeds of creativity that we overlook. “SIART” wants to keep an open state, and its suffix “START” can inject more possibilities, such as starting to discover, starting to grow, starting to feel, starting to change. ….

    The basic structure of the first iSTART Children’s Art Festival has basically taken shape: it is divided into children’s art themed exhibitions, creative work offices, fun exhibition projects jointly organised by art museums and institutions, and a wealth of outdoor games and experiential activities, etc. A4 hopes to gather the resources of the city, educational institutions, and families in the community, and to set up a public art platform that integrates artistic creation, children’s growth, and emotional connection, where children can fully express themselves in this open space. This open space allows children to fully express themselves. The Children’s Art Theme Exhibition invites artists to co-create with children, and the joint display of artists’ works and children’s works creates a dynamic interactive space for small and large friends. Throughout the project, educator-artists and children collaborated to create new interactive media live works on topics such as the growing body, childhood growth stories, light and shadow theatre, and miniature art museums, as well as highly creative art scenes such as video spaces and independent animation projects in the third floor art centre gallery.