Back To Top Icon


Project development at Leeds playhouse

We provide a safe, receptive and open environment for independent artists and companies to explore new projects, to push at the boundaries of their creativity; to try, fail and try again.

We develop brand new theatre projects that are brought to us by external artists. We create bespoke development journeys for projects, responding to an artist’s needs and tailoring the way we nurture new theatre ideas accordingly. In broad terms, we support projects with timespace and money.

If you are a local artist looking for free rehearsal space, please visit our Furnace Social Club for information.

Supported by

What we look for

We want to be as transparent as possible about the types of work we support, so we’ve listed a number of different things we look for when developing new projects. Project development is responsive and flexible, so this list is not exhaustive, nor is it a set of hard and fast criteria that artists need to meet.

In general, we prioritise the development of projects that:

  • Are created by artists who are currently living or working in Yorkshire and the North.
  • Are created by artists of colour; artists who identify as LGBTQ+; artists who are D/deaf and/or disabled and artists from backgrounds that are currently underrepresented on UK stages.
  • Engage with or speak to the people involved in our comprehensive creative engagement programme.
  • Are narrative-based or that tell a story that needs to be heard.

What’s the process?

If you’ve got an idea for a new theatre project, we want to hear from you. Below is an example of the project development process. Again, it’s not set in stone, but it should give you an idea of how we work.

Step One: Fancy A Brew? ​

The first step in the project development process is always sitting down for a cup of tea with an artist and starting to build a relationship. We’d also like to see some of your work, so if you have created or are involved with an upcoming production, get in touch, let us know as far in advance as possible and we will try to come and see it.

Step Two: Write It Up

After we’ve talked about an idea, we might invite you to send us a brief written outline of the project. Ideally, this would contain a short description of the idea, the rough timeline you imagine creating the project to, and an idea of the kind of support you’d like from us.

Step Three: Development Slate Meeting

New ideas are discussed by the artistic planning team at our monthly development slate meeting. Our development slate documents over 200 possible projects, so it’s not always possible to discuss every idea until the subsequent meeting, but we always try to respond to an artist within eight weeks.

What We Offer

We support Furnace participants with the following resources:


Support, mentoring and advice from Playhouse staff 
From fundraising to bar licensing, and from schools workshops to social media, our team is full of experienced people who can offer valuable advice on a wide variety of topics. We can also support the development of new projects with dramaturgical support and from time to time, we also offer support writing funding applications.


Access to rehearsal space, desk space and meeting rooms​​​
Projects in development have access to a wide variety of spaces around the building, subject to their availability. We offer spaces in-kind and we calculate the value of that space for artists to use in funding applications or reports.


Financial support and seed funding
We offer seed funding in a variety of different ways. Sometimes, it’s structured to cover the cost of a specific development workshop or a day of writing; sometimes, it’s a set amount of seed funding to get a project off the ground or act as match funding.

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