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Dr Tom Maguire, Head of the School of Arts & Humanities, has been elected Chair of the Board of the International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network (ITYARN).

ITYARN is one of the networks of the global association for theatre for children and young people, and it aims to further research in theatre and performance for children and youth, through international exchanges of scholarly materials and conferences, symposia, and festivals.  It is committed to scholarly intercultural and interdisciplinary exchange, as well as a continued dialogue between researchers and practitioners, to contribute to a better understanding of the impact of theory on practice and practice on theory from multiple perspectives.

ITYARN is the official research network of ASSITEJ (International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People), and following a highly successful conference as part of the ASSITEJ World Congress 2021, hosted online from 22 March – 1 April, Tom will be taking on the role of Chair until the next Congress in Cuba in 2024. His election follows on from Professor Manon van de Water, the Vilas-Phipps Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Professor van de Water said on Tom’s appointment:

“Tom has been an active member of the ITYARN Board, co-organising conferences and leading scholarship in the field through his own publications and research activities. Live performing arts and the lives of children have been adversely affected by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Researchers have a key role to play in documenting, evaluating and advocating for the ways in which performances respond to the voices of artists and children particularly where they have been silenced across the globe. I am delighted that Tom is taking up this key role at this critical moment.”

Dr Maguire recently led the organisation of the Talking TYA conference as part of the Galway 2020 celebrations and is also Chair of the Board of Portstewart-based Big Telly Theatre Company and a Board member of Young at Art, Belfast. He co-edited ‘Theatre for Young Audiences in the UK‘ with Dr Karian Schuitema and his recent essay ‘Alternative Worlds: the emergence of Theatre for Young Audiences from the conflict in Northern Ireland’ was published in the international journal Strenae in 2020. He developed one of the first university modules on Theatre for Young Audiences in Ireland as part of the BA (Hons) Drama programme at Ulster University.

Dr Maguire is the first academic from the UK or Ireland to take up this role, and on his election as Chair, he commented:

“It is a great honour to take over as Chair of the Board of ITYARN. In September 2020, ASSITEJ launched a manifesto for equal and equitable access to arts and culture as an indispensable requirement for children to live in a sustainable and healthy world.

“ITYARN’s network of global researchers has a critical role in providing an evidence-base for the power of the arts in delivering on that manifesto.”

For more information on ASSITEJ and its manifesto, go to