Leeds Playhouse is creating a series of career-boosting opportunities for Yorkshire-based theatre designers – including two one-year placements – supported by the Jerwood Developing Artists Fund.
The Playhouse is one of 16 organisations benefitting from a total of £1m invested by Jerwood Arts in early-career artist development programmes over the next two years. The funding will enable the Leeds-based theatre and charity to create two one-year placements for early-career theatre designers, running consecutively in 2023 and 2024, plus two short-term placements and two Introduction to Design training courses.
Amy Leach, Deputy Artistic Director at Leeds Playhouse: “We are thrilled to be working with Jerwood Arts again to support theatre designers. It is essential that as we continue to support the theatre ecology in Yorkshire and ensure our workforce is representative of our vibrant city, we also provide opportunities for local designers to develop.”
Last year, Leeds Playhouse created a year-long Resident Designer role in collaboration with Leeds-based children’s theatre company tutti frutti, supported by the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme. The successful designer – Bradford-based Warda Abbasi – enjoyed a range of opportunities and on-the-job experience during her tenure, including designing the set and costumes for I Wanna Be Yours, which played in the Bramall Rock Void at the Playhouse before heading out on a city-wide community tour.
Forty people applied for the Resident Designer position, which included spending time in the Playhouse’s production departments; working as an assistant designer on shows; and contributing to Furnace (artistic development programme) and Creative Engagement (community outreach), including designing a schools’ tour. Warda also spent time with tutti frutti as an Assistant Designer and joined 49 other Weston Jerwood Fellows for a year of professional development, networking and mentoring.
The successful applicants for the 2023/24 Jerwood Designers Programme one-year placements, which are specifically aimed at set and costume designers, will be offered unique opportunities to learn from a wide range of activities and production departments across Leeds Playhouse. They will work closely with Furnace, the theatre’s renowned artistic development programme, which is widely regarded as one of the most ambitious and well-respected initiatives of its kind in the UK.
The two-year Jerwood programme will once again see the Playhouse working in collaboration with tutti frutti on the one-year placements to offer a wide range of experiences across multiple scales. In addition to these placements, there will also be two short-term paid residencies for designers in other design disciplines, and two Introduction to Design training courses for up to 30 locally-based artists.
Applications will open in January. In the meantime, locally-based designers and theatre-makers are encouraged to join Furnace Social Club, the Playhouse’s free network for artists, which gives them access to career-enhancing workshops, rehearsal space, discounted tickets and regular newsletters filled with placement and development opportunities at the Playhouse and across the region.