At a time which has hit almost every sector hard, including the creative industry, Leeds has done what Leeds does best; rolled its sleeves up, thought outside of the box and found new, innovative ways of bringing people together. It’s been difficult to find the positives throughout the tragic Coronavirus pandemic, but one thing we have seen in Leeds is a huge amount of community spirit, togetherness and a willing not to give up.
It goes without saying that children have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Overnight their entire day to day structure was taken away; school turned into lessons at the kitchen table with heroic work-juggling parents, and playing with friends was taken completely out of the question.
It was with all the above in mind that Leeds theatre-makers tutti frutti, Wrongsemble, Unlimited Theatre, 154 Collective, Blah Blah Blahs, Alive & Kicking, Interplay, Fidget Theatre and Slung Low decided to join forces to bring theatre back to children in the city, delighting them with a live experience on their doorstep. Supported by Leeds 2023, over the course of a day Live Little Stories for Leeds saw the companies coming together to perform socially distanced theatre shows for free to pre-invited families and children at locations across Leeds.
Led by the tutti frutti team, all performances took place outdoors to small audiences, always following strict social distancing guidelines. As is now starting to feel normal, there was plenty of PPE equipment on site, and the team played a blinder by cleverly weaving the one-way systems and safety measures into the performances.
Our aspiration for Leeds 2023 is to build towards an ambitious and significant creative offer for Leeds in 2023, and children play a pivotal role in that. Working alongside brilliant partners like tutti frutti, we want children from all across the city to have the best possible access to culture. The Coronavirus pandemic has been terrible, but it has forced us to think about things differently in terms of access to creativity and make needed changes. Long may it continue, and let’s hope to see culture popping up in parks, playgrounds, and right on our own front doorstep, in the future.
IMAGE: How i Hacked My Way into Space, Unlimited Theatre, Little Live Stories for Leeds. Photo by Simon K. Allen Photography