How Does it Support Local Artists?
Its focus should be on developing and supporting local artists by offering rehearsal space to workshop and create new work as well as a performance space to platform work. Supporting and celebrating local artists is something that Leeds is calling out for. Too often do we see performers, companies and creatives from outside of Yorkshire on and behind the stages of Leeds, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of those talented creatives who live locally and are desperate to collaborate and work with local theatres.

We also agreed it would be beneficial to all families across Leeds and Yorkshire to use this space as a central hub for signposting events, workshops, performances, and services related to the arts for children, families, and young people. As a mother of a young family myself, I find it impossible to keep track of what is happening in and around Leeds and am often unsure where to look for this type of information. I am directly involved in the arts and yet I still seem to miss family focused events that I would have definitely attended had I known it was happening. It would be useful for all families/young people to have one central place to speak to when looking for information and advice on arts and theatre related events and services.

How and Who Runs it?
In celebrating local talent, we also need to pool our resources with regards to youth theatres that run across the city or alternatively hold a space for a weekly youth theatre in the annual programme.

From here, we can enlist youth theatre students who would like to volunteer in running the space, giving them access to new work while providing them with the ability to network and build skills that are invaluable when entering the world of theatre. This invitation to partner up through volunteering/working at the centre can extend to those studying in tertiary education like Leeds Beckett or The Conservatoire. Investing in young people in this way might encourage them to stay in Leeds after their studies, increasing the pool of creatives that live and work in our city. Other than Students

What is the USP?
I do think we may have answered this is in the various points listed and raised throughout both sessions, but it needs further discussion and formalising at a satellite D&D open space in order to justify funding support and is dependent on mapping what already exists in and around Yorkshire. Why do we need a space like this in the current climate? Why does anyone need to invest in a space like this over investing in other projects that might be more pressing involving food banks/social housing/homelessness etc?

Discussions around linking with The Collective that formed during lockdown (i.e. Tutti Fruitti, Alive and Kicking etc.). For those who are unaware of The Collective, it was a group of artists and companies working in children’s theatre from Yorkshire who came together to run a small theatre festival for families across Leeds, often using unconventional spaces for performance. Sadly, this was a one off event, however the networking possibilities we can access as a result of the event is invaluable.

Partnering with Transform to create a child and family friendly programme for the festival might be a great start to building momentum and developing a strong and loyal audience base. I plan to meet up with Ali to discuss this further.

Wrongsemble are already looking to create/develop a theatre space in Leeds and have agreed it might be better to pool our resources and work together on this project. They have offered to share they existing database with us and invited me to accompany them on various site visits to potential venues in Leeds.

We also spoke about linking with Leeds Libraries and Healthy Holidays.

Therapeutic Support:
The potential for mental health support an art centre can offer is worth investigating. The arts have historically been an excellent form of therapy for those managing their mental health and there is no reason why this arts space could not respond to the growing demands for mental health support amongst children and families. Lucy Smith, a local drama therapist, attended our previous session and spoke briefly about the possibilities of incorporating drama therapy into the annual programming/offering it ad hoc to those seeking this form of therapy. From there we spoke about the power of play and the therapeutic benefits of play. With a space that has its foundation in play, there could be room in looking at funding support in the care sector.

Intergenerational Community Hub:
This concept of therapeutic support started us talking about the possibility of creating an art space that had the community at heart rather than just families and children.

Barriers to access:
Location, transport, previous experience. The Leeds transport system needs addressing with local council. To improve access to venues like ours that require families to use public transport, local council needs to look at ways to improve public travel by making it more accessible and affordable for families. Perhaps there is a conversation with local council around including travel in the price of a theatre ticket. Alternatively, seeking an appropriate location outside of the city centre will still exclude people from outside of that catchment area; how do we encourage people to venture out of their neighbourhood?

I am aware that the Aire Park development will include a large outdoor play area for children and so it is worth speaking to/inviting Vastint UK to attend the next D&D satellite session to discuss the possibility of building an arts space together.

Ways of navigating these issues:
- Liaising with Tracy Brabin (Mayor) and lining up transport deals as discussed above and in our previous session
- Liaising with Fiona Venner (Children's Social Care and Health Partnerships; Chair of Health and Wellbeing Board)
- Liaising with Pam Johnson (Head of Cultural Programmes, Leeds City Council) and Maddie Irwin (independent consultant specialising in creative and cultural engagement and a trainee Play and Creative Arts Therapist)
- Creating pop-up spaces/mobile spaces like Emma Bearman’s Playboxes (
- Tap into Wrongsemble’s data on cold spots across the city and work together on developing this form of planning further

Linking in with various wider partner groups such as council, business, developer, education/social care, early years hubs, as well as other artists, performers and creative.

Next Steps:
We will hold a D&D satellite session in Leeds in the next few months and send out a formal invitation for anyone interested to attend an open space. For more information or to join the mailing list please email [email protected].