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Community Partnerships Scheme

Our Community Partnerships project aims to strengthen our relationship with the local community in Leeds and beyond and to open up our wonderful art form to people who may have barriers which would usually prevent them from engaging with us.

Read our 5 Year Review to find out more.


Encore is a scheme for community groups and organisations that work with people who have barriers which prevent them from engaging with Opera North. There are currently more than 100 groups/organisations in the scheme.

Encore members are offered free or heavily subsidised tickets to Opera North’s work in Leeds (both operas on the main stage and Howard Assembly Room performances), plus access to workshops and taster performances in the community and invitations to bespoke events. We have had over 11,500 attendances at performances at Opera North via the Encore scheme since it began in November 2013, and approximately 4,000 attendances at events, taster performances and workshops.


Participants from Encore groups attend a pre-show tour © Justin Slee

Wonderful, lovely, great — the members said that they had a fabulous night out and that they haven’t had a night like that for years. They are still talking about it now.”
— Staff Member from Trinity Network (Community Group)


My mum is sick and I am her carer full-time. Going to the theatre was a lovely experience because it stopped me thinking of my mum. I want to go again and would love to take my mum also so we could both forget about her illness.”
— Group member from Dales BID (Community Group)

Community Partners

Our Community Partners come to planning meetings, receive exclusive offers, and are given the opportunity to host taster workshops and performances in their own venues.

2014/15 partners: Leeds Together Women Project, Emmaus Leeds, Little London Arts, Leeds Irish Health & Homes, Meeting Point and RETAS

2015/16 partners: The Bridge, GIPSIL, Haqooq, Leeds Refugee Forum, Making Space and Space2

2016/17 partners: Cloth Cat, Leeds City of Sanctuary, Right Choices, Sawan Vihar, Womens Health Matters and Zest Health for Life

2017/18 partners: Angel of Youths, Aspire, Bahar AFG Women’s Association, Leeds Hearing and Sight Loss Service, the LS14 Trust and Peer Support Service.

2019/20 partners: 5 Ways, BAME Health & Wellbeing Hub, BIASAN, Caring for Life, Conversation Club and Ripon House

Ladies from Sawan Vihar following a introductory performance © Tom Arber

“The people who come to Caring for Life can be hurting in all sorts of ways, from past experiences and/or present situations. The benefits that come from being able to escape from all that for a few hours are massive. Opera is such a fantastic vehicle for the expression of so many different emotions, and we have found that even when members with low levels of comprehension have come to watch a performance, they have engaged fully through that emotional connection.”

— Harriet Saul from Caring for Life (2019/20 Community Partner)

Soprano Bibi Heal gives a taster performance at Emmaus Leeds © Brian Slater

Taster performances

Taster performances and workshops in community settings give us a way to creatively introduce our work and productions to the people we meet as part of the project. These are often hosted by our Community Partners, but are also offered to other Encore groups and to communities with whom we are keen to engage.

”I felt well fed up when I came in today. Even though I didn’t understand the language there was something about it that lifted me.”
— Client from St George’s Crypt

One of our young participants was crying as she had no idea that a singer’s voice could sound so wonderful.”
— Staff member from Space2 (2015/16 Community Partner)


We provide access to Opera North performances for blind and partially-sighted audience members with audio-described performances, touch tours and audio notes that people can listen to in advance. For people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, we have signed and captioned performances throughout the year. For more information, including performance dates, visit the Access page.

‘”It was my first time at the theatre. I watched the signed performance of Carousel. I never go out, I don’t have any friends. I am deaf and live alone. The evening was very special. I would love to go again – I had never imagined I would go to the theatre – I never knew they did signed performances… Thank you so much for inviting me. I will keep the programme forever as a memory.”

— Group member, Dales BID (Community Group)

A touch tour before a performance of Madama Butterfly at Leeds Grand Theatre © Tom Arber

Get in touch

For more information about our Community Partnerships programme, please contact Madeleine Thorne, Head of Community Partnerships.

Phone: 0113 223 3505

The Community Partnerships Programme was originally set up with a generous gift from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.


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