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LEEDS 2023 announces 10 new commissioned partnerships for early-stage projects

Improplay Project by Katy Hewison. Photo by Elly Welford

With the countdown well and truly underway to our extraordinary Year of Culture we are  excited to announce 10 new school partnership seed commissions (early-stage ideas) that will inform and inspire our work with and for young people in 2023. The year will showcase and uplift culture and creativity across Leeds and these newly announced projects are a way schools and colleges can partner with creative organisations and artists to produce some incredible ideas! 

As we strive to reach every schoolchild in the city, these projects will feed into the development for our programme for the young people of Leeds. Youth voice is a key element of our work and through these commissions, children and young people are a driving influence for these ideas.  

This month we’re excited to see 10 partnerships between education providers and artists get underway as they begin research and development for new projects. From interweaving digital technology and environmental sustainability across schools to working with schools to inspire musical responses to sporting stories of the past, these seed commissions are working towards creating new experiences and building a foundation which can continue beyond 2023.  

You can find out more about each project below and keep up to date with their progress on our social channels! 

LEEDS 2023 Seed Commissions for School Partnership Programme  

Common Wealth Theatre x St Matthew’s CofE Primary (Chapel Allerton) – ‘Off the Curriculum’ will explore subjects not taught in school through art forms not typically seen in the classroom. Collaborating with artists and educators, Common Wealth will introduce children to critical thinking and empower them to think about what is on and off the curriculum. 

Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah x Beechwood Primary School (Killingbeck & Seacroft) and Ashfield Primary School (Otley)  – This project aims to create a new digital experience around food poverty, climate change and food growing for children aged 5-8 and their families. It will invite young people and their families to be a part of the dialogue around how we can help stop any child in our city going hungry.  

Mafwa Theatre  – Building on work around gardening and creating an eco-friendly play and growing site as part of another LEEDS 2023 project (My World My City My Neighbourhood), this partnership will explore notions of play, and use of shared community outdoor spaces for the benefit of a local primary school, its pupils and wider school community.  

Leeds Young Film  – Leed Young Film will work with a core group of students to develop their critical skills around engaging with screen content by learning to be a critical watcher, being able to communicate responses to content and to curate and share content with their peers.  

Imagination Exchanges – Katy Hewison (Improplay) x Lawns Park Primary (Old Farnley) , Richmond Hill Academy (Richmond Hill), Wigton Moor Primary (Alwoodley) and Peter Gläsel Stiftung (Detmold, Germany) – This international collaboration and exchange will provide opportunities for teachers and children in Early Years to be inspired by dance improvisation, to observe how it can affect learning and establish links with international partners.  

Orchestra of Objects – Ben Gates – Ben will collaborate with a theatre partner to develop activity involving designing and making bespoke sound devices and musical instruments leading to links to community festivals and events. The project links with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, maths) and cross-curricular practical application of skills, leading to playful adventures and performances in outdoor spaces.  

Gledhow Primary School (Roundhay) – This project plans to partner with a local secondary school to use sporting stories of the past to inspire musical responses. It will look at the ways in which music and sporting heritage can be integrated into the curriculum, connecting children between primary and secondary, and developing social well-being.  

Akshaya Krishnamoorthy and Elizabeth Perry (International School of Prague) – Akshaya and Elizabeth have been working with 5–6-year-olds, using weaving and technology, to explore the question: ‘What stories would pieces of weaving share if they could talk?’. They would like to extend this by collaborating with schools and communities in Leeds by looking at ways hand-weaving and technology might allow young children to tell their own stories in a unique way.  

Tutti-Frutti Productions x Harehills Primary School, Hillcrest Primary School (Chapeltown) – This project aims to set up a Children’s Creative Congress, facilitated by artists in each partner school, to devise and plan a project themed on environmental sustainability that can connect across schools using digital technology. 

Winds of Change – Space 2 x Allerton CofE Primary (Moortown), Balbir Singh Dance Company, Bike Reaction Power – As a response to the climate crisis with pupils and families at Allerton CE Primary, Space 2 plans to design and build a wind turbine to generate power for an area of the school. The project works towards interweaving cultural celebration and the synergy of diverse cultures represented at the school.