PLAYHOUSE CONNECT – Reaching Out

Leeds Playhouse’s award-winning Creative Engagement programme has been so successful that the theatre company is building on the work of the programme (established to connect Leeds City Region communities) to include those who are feeling isolated or who are vulnerable during lockdown.  

PLAYHOUSE CONNECT aims to help those who are lonely, have mental health or wellbeing issues, are young people in need of training to acquire skills, and those who would benefit from reconnection and recovery. The activities provided by the programme are all free. They boost creativity whilst helping people connect socially. Now, the Playhouse is working with partners on a variety of new projects.

Harry Venet and Lily-Mae Emery. Photograph by David Lindsay.

The pioneering PLAYHOUSE CONNECT programme was recognised in The Stage’s Top 100 theatre awards, having started at the beginning of the first lockdown. It helped to connect over 12,000 people via over 30 projects.

Janet Sewell, Hopi Gavin-Allen, Pauline Holmes, Beth Knight (Assistant Director).

New projects include the following:

  • Reasons to be Hopeful – 100 people from two generations will collaborate with 10 local artists via post, phone, zoom and email to forge new creative connections and create a multi-media tapestry for the people of Leeds, filled with reasons to be hopeful.  
  • Can You Hear Me? – A weekly invitation to young people across the city to respond to voice notes left by award-winning industry professionals including playwright, rapper and beatboxer Testament, actor Lladel Bryant and comedian Maisie Adam. These personalised positive audio messages of solidarity, reflection and connection will generate responses from young people, enabling them to share their experiences.
  • Playhouse Young Leaders – 12 young people will receive professional training in arts leadership to help them realise their potential as part of the Playhouse’s aim to help support training and job opportunities in the Leeds region.

    James Brining, Artistic Director of Leeds Playhouse: “The Playhouse is renowned nationally and internationally for its community and participatory work. A fierce commitment to engaging people who are often marginalised or experience barriers to engagement is part of our DNA and our PLAYHOUSE CONNECT project is a brilliant and hugely important creative response to the incredibly difficult circumstances in which many in our community find themselves. This latest iteration is characterised not just by a strong desire to support and sustain people emotionally and spiritually but also to nourish their creativity and empower them through connection and providing positive outcomes and hope. I’m really proud of the team who have devised and will deliver this brilliant work across the city with and for the people of Leeds.”


Councillor Judith Blake, Leader, Leeds City Council: “For almost 50 years, the Playhouse has been a cornerstone of culture in Leeds, bringing the city’s communities together and generating huge cultural, social and economic benefits for the people of Leeds.”

For more information on the current projects available and additional projects to come including how to book please visit here.

Feature photograph by Nick Singleton.

Helen Morgan

Helen's interests are wide-ranging, from food to music to art and comedy.   She is especially keen on writing about local charitable activity and events as well as the opportunities the City Region has to offer to those with hidden talents.

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