Arts Q&A: Belfast Children's Festival director Eibhlín de Barra on Stevie Wonder, Philip Pullman and road cycling

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week Eibhlín de Barra, director of the Belfast Children's Festival

Eibhlín de Barra, Director of Young at Art is looking forward to this year's Belfast Children's Festival from March 9 to 14

1. When did you first think about a career in children's theatre and programming and what were your first steps into it?

I've always been interested in music and theatre. I studied drama at university and then trained as a Stage Manager at RADA in London, and worked as a stage manager for 12 years.

I started working for Young at Art as a casual event manager and then production managed two Belfast Children's Festivals before joining the team as Programme Officer in 2013, while also working as Company Manager for Maiden Voyage Dance.

It was during this time that my love for performance work for young audiences really took off and allowed me to hone my programming skills, before I got the chance to apply for the role as director, which I took over in 2017.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

Primal Scream, while I was at university in London around 1990; Dylan Moran in the old Conor Hall at the Art College, must have been around 2004 and Manic Street Preachers in The Ulster Hall in 2013.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Stevie Wonder.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island?

Stevie Wonder's Superstition – best track of all time

5. And the book you'd take to a desert island?

How to Survive on a Desert Island.

6. Top three films?

It's a Wonderful Life, Singing in The Rain and Strictly Ballroom.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Horrible Bosses.

8. Favourite authors?

Philip Pullman, Jostein Gaarder and Flann O'Brien.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

Road cycling. I love the Tour de France and have been to see it a couple of times. My top team is whoever Nicolas Roche is riding for

10. Ideal holiday destination?

I would love like to go back to South East Asia, I've have been to Thailand, Vietnam & Cambodia so would like to explore Laos.

11. Pet hate?

Unkind people.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Any shellfish.

Dessert? Tiramisu.

Drink? Jawbox gin and Fever Tree ginger ale.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

That's a hard one, as I have a few really good friends, but if I had to single out one person it would be Brona Whittaker. If I was in a pickle I'd lift the phone to call her first.

We first met while I was stage managing Little Shop of Horrors at the Lyric Theatre in 1998 and she was a child chaperone on the production.

14. Is there a God?

I think faith is a really personal thing, and I respect everyone's right to choose what's right for them.

:: Belfast Children's Festival runs from March 9 to 14 at venues across Belfast. For event listings and tickets visit

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