In 1989, 194 countries ratified the convention on the Rights of the Child based on the conviction and belief that all children possess an equal right to grow up healthy, strong, well-educated and capable of contributing to their societies.

Since then, the circumstances under which children live, have improved. Greater attention is being paid to children’s health, education has improved and restrictions on child employment, female genital mutilation and corporal punishment have been implemented. Nevertheless, those children who at that time were the most vulnerable are still the most vulnerable. Their situation has not changed, in fact it even deteriorated. The COVID pandemic made their situation even worse.

If the world does not address this inequality today, according to UNICEF, by 2030 - the deadline set by the United Nations to attaining sustainable development goals - 167 million children will live in extreme poverty, 69 million children under 5 will die, and 60 million children in primary school age will not attend school.The State of the World's Children 2016, Unicef


Although it is agreed that the most vulnerable in our society should be protected, the fate of these children easily disappears from the attention in the turmoil of the daily adult news. If we really want to make a serious effort to improve the lives of these children, we have to describe the circumstances they live in continuously and tell their stories profoundly and inescapably. Art and artists can play

a significant role in this endeavour. Alongside the analyses, statistics and political intentions, artists are capable of depicting the stories of these children on a personal and emotional level. Art touches the heart and can make the lives and obstacles that these children encounter day after day tangible. Not to raise pity, but on the contrary to show the potential, the resilience and the strength of these children. The aim is to create involvement and awareness by a general public, by regional and international leaders and by social and political institutions, to evoke necessary and concrete actions to give these children a fair chance in life. 


In 10 cities in 10 countries, an international and local community of children, young people, professional artists, museums, theaters, film schools, as well as universities, humanitarian organizations and NGOs will work together on various art projects.The stories of the children and their perspectives are central. They are the authors and the experts.

  • A performance made by professional actors, dancers and/or musicians created and performed in close collaboration with the children.The performance will be presented in the local language and will address in a high quality and meaningful way the inevitable consequences of poverty. 
  • A documentary will portray the daily life of the children and their families based on what they would like to show. The main focus is the voice of the children, their struggle and courage, their concerns and dreams. The documentary will be made by talented local professionals. 
  • A photo- and visual arts exhibition where local and international artists  work together with children. The exhibition contains all kinds of visual work: Video, painting, sculpture, installations and more. The quality of the artists and the raw sincerity of the children will create exciting and powerful work.  
  • An educational program will be developed in close cooperation with the local partners and will be available for schools, theatre's and NGO's. These programmes will also be part of the general educational 10CHILDRENbox.
  • A context program: meetings with experts, discussions, lectures, workshops. Here the collaboration with the different NGO’s and universities will be crucial.
  • A big opening night, where all the art-projects are presented to a general audience, to local and national politicians, NGO’s, influential members of the community, press and of course to the children and their families. After this event all the art projects will stay available for a long period for schools and a general audience.The goal is to generate publicity for the stories of the children and hopefully create some change in the way their lives are perceived, locally, regionally and globally.


10CHILDREN is an initiative of Liesbeth Coltof and Dennis Meyer.

Liesbeth Coltof is an internationally respected theater director. She was the artistic director of one of the most important theater companies for children and young people in the Netherlands, the Toneelmakerij, and has received important prizes at home and abroad for her work. She has extensive experience in working in war zones and countries in conflict or poverty, such as in Palestine (Gaza), Nigeria, Russia and Iran. For her 'special merits of a very exceptional nature for society' she joined the Order of the Netherlands Lion as a Knight. (extensive CV)

Dennis Meyer is a dramaturg, theater teacher and policy advisor and was artistic director of Het Lab Utrecht, a theater organization where young professional theater makers worked for children and young people. He also set up several art festivals and was a youth theater specialist at the Theater Institute Netherlands for a long time, where he set up various international projects.

The board of the 10CHILDREN Foundation consists of Valentijn Ouwens (chairman) and Cobie de Vos (secretary). We are searching for two new members. Look here for the job description (in Dutch).

Journalist Marian Buijs interviewed Liesbeth Coltof and Dennis Meyer on 10CHILDREN. You can read the interview here.