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Creative Engagement

Creative Engagement

Playhouse Connect

Building connections across the city region throughout lockdown

Join us for a brand-new series of creative workshops and projects this Spring.

We’re building on the Playhouse Connect work already carried out aiming to address 4 specific areas which are particularly critical at this moment in time:  Isolation and Loneliness, Mental Health and Well Being, Reconnection and Recovery and Skills and Training for Young People.   There are lots of activities coming up, working with those we already engage with and lots of space for new participants and audiences, so watch this space for the next set of projects being announced.

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Creative Insights

  • Find out more about our research project with the University of Glasgow

    What is the Creative Insights project? 

    Creative Insights is a research project exploring young people’s perspectives on health inequalities through creativity.   

    As part of a collaboration between the University of Glasgow and Leeds Playhouse, in partnership with Opera North, researchers and Playhouse creative facilitators spent three weeks with 19 young people from Leeds, exploring their perspectives on health inequalities through creative writing, performance, and photography.   

    The Creative Insights project invited young people from both Leeds and Glasgow to explore the issues with artists and researchers. The Leeds groups worked with performance artists at Leeds Playhouse and the Glasgow groups worked with visual artists from Impact Arts. 

    What are health inequalities and why are young people’s perspectives important? 

    There are many factors that shape a person’s health. Many of the most important influences are not things that people choose but are driven by circumstances outside of their control. People living in the most affluent areas of the UK are likely to enjoy many more years of good health than those living in the least affluent areas because of differences in access to things like employment, education, and housing. These unfair differences in health experiences and outcomes across the population are known as “health inequalities”. 

    Relatively little is known about what young people think about health inequalities and what should be done to address the issue. Young people’s perspectives are particularly important now. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has worsened health inequalities in all areas of life, had a disproportionate impact on young people with disruptions to their education, mental health, relationships, and future outlooks.  

    What did we do in Creative Insights? 

    Over the course of three four-day online workshops, the young people took part in group discussions and creative activities to explore diverse understandings of what shapes health and our priorities for potential solutions to the enduring existence of health inequalities. The young people were recruited in partnership with the Bellbrooke Surgery, Market Place and Breeze Arts Foundation.  

    In preparation, young people had creative packs sent to their homes which included materials for sketching, writing and film-making. Covid restrictions meant that groups were only able to meet online. Creative Practitioners Ellie Manners and Lily Craig led interactive activities to help everyone get to know each other and make everyone comfortable with sharing their experiences, feedback, and creative work over Zoom.  

    The groups worked together and independently to explore their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns through a series of creative activities including writing, spoken word performance and movement. 

    The young people produced diverse pieces of writing exploring many dimensions of their experiences, with some common concerns related to school closures, shifting relationships, and the importance of mental health. Working together with facilitators, the groups also choreographed a movement piece which reflected the mundane routines of their lives during lockdown.  

    Based on discussions of their concerns and priorities regarding health inequalities and policies to address inequalities related to the pandemic, the young people developed speeches and campaigns to articulate their demands for change.  

    They also explored their perspectives on how the city of Leeds could be reimagined to support the health and wellbeing of the whole population. A range of environmental, social and cultural factors were discussed, with lots of innovative ideas being shared to address issues including lack of affordable, sustainable housing and income inequality. 

    Each week culminated in an online showcase event, where young people shared their creative writing, speeches and campaigns, and articulated their demands in front of an audience of researchers and industry professionals.  

    A film has been created laying out the young people’s concerns.


    Want more information?  

    The research is being conducted by Dr Gillian Fergie and Dr Thu Thuy Phan, researchers in the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow. They are currently working to collate everything the young people shared; their reflections and all their artworks. If you are interested in hearing more about the project, please contact 

    A special thank you to Moses Anokye and Aidan Walker who provided support to the young people through the workshops.   

    This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council [ES/S001913/1]. 

Creative Associates

  • Find out more about our Creative Associate programme

    We want to redefine our relationship with our current freelancers and expand our reach by offering support to a whole new group of creative facilitators as part of our new Creative Associate programme.

    The pandemic has highlighted the important role freelancers play in the creative sector. Sadly, it has also underlined the fragility of their work.

    Leeds Playhouse was founded 50 years ago by the people, for the people, and we remain steadfastly committed to our home city and the creatives who live here.

    Our new Creative Associate programme, led by our award-winning Creative Engagement team, aims to set out a clear road map for freelancers – both old friends and new – highlighting our commitment to developing an even more mutually beneficial relationship through:

    • Clear lines of communication
    • Consistent support, information and reassurance
    • Development, sharing and training
    • Early notification of recruitment opportunities

    It’s important to note that the scheme does not represent a guaranteed offer of freelance work, and is not a way of engaging new or existing participants in our Creative Engagement programme. It is also not a place to develop new work – it’s solely about helping creative facilitators develop their practice.

    Should membership result in paid work with the Playhouse on a programme that requires a DBS check, associates will be expected to comply.

    Who is it aimed at?

    All Leeds-based freelancers who have an interest in delivering work that creatively engages with diverse communities. This includes all the freelancers currently working on our engagement programmes.

    While this programme is aimed at freelance artists, we are also changing the nature of our relationship with our support workers as they take up casual employment status. We understand, however, that some support workers also identify as freelance artists and, as such, will be entitled to join the Creative Associate scheme.

    What is the offer?

    Our Creative Engagement programme comprises a wide variety of projects and events. Examples of where we are eager to expand our freelance team include: Community Outreach Workshops; Youth Theatre and other youth programmes; in-school facilitating and other education programmes; and many more.

    We want to offer freelancers an evolving year-long programme of events, training and networking.

    This will include:

    • An introduction to our Creative Engagement programme
    • An introduction to our Furnace artist development programme
    • Membership of our Furnace Social Club (including events, workshops and £5 ticket offers)
    • Monthly Tea & Talk sessions hosted by members of the Creative Engagement team
    • Two in-house training sessions a year on topics as wide-ranging as safeguarding and Dementia Friends
    • Two artist networking events
    • Autumn and summer social events
    • A Q&A event with Leeds Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining and the Senior Management Team
    • ‘Fancy a brew?’ informal chats with members of the Playhouse team
    • Invites to season launches
    • An optional skill-sharing with the wider network three times a year
    • Free WiFi in the Playhouse building and access to co-working space
    • A Playhouse lanyard for all creative delivery
    • References (on completion of a project with the Playhouse)

    When will it happen?

    We are aiming to run the pilot Creative Associate programme from September 2021 to August 2022. We will then review the pool each year and adapt the offer accordingly.

    How do I register my interest?

    Please complete the short application form below so we can get to know you a little better. You can either download the form and fill in it or video your answers. Then just email your submission to by midnight on Wednesday 6 October.

    Once you have registered your interest, you may be invited to share some of your practice or complete a short exercise in a small workshop group. You may also be asked to stay for an informal follow-up chat with one of our Creative Engagement team after the workshop.

    After all submissions have been considered, the programme is scheduled to start in November.

    If you would like to find out more before registering your interest, we are running an optional information session via zoom on Tuesday 21 September 5.30–6.30pm. To book a place, please email

    As with all Playhouse programmes, freelancers from diverse backgrounds and people with disabilities are actively encouraged to apply.


Download BrochureAutumn / Winter 21
Download BrochureAutumn / Winter 21
Major funders
Arts Council England Leeds City Council The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation
Principal Capital and Families Partner
Caddick Developments
Principal Capital and Access Partner
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors