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Community Partnerships

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.

Encore scheme

Encore is a scheme for community groups and organisations that work with people who have barriers which prevent them from engaging with Opera North. With more than 100 groups and organisations in the scheme, members are offered free or heavily subsidised tickets to our work in Leeds, plus access to workshops, taster performances and invitations to bespoke events.

Since it began in 2013 the scheme has brought over 11,500 Encore attendees to Opera North performances, with approximately 4,000 people also attending our taster performances and workshops.

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)

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

Ladies from Sawan Vihar following a introductory performance © Tom Arber

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.

Our 2020-2021 partners are Changing Lives (People in Action), Feel Good Factor, Helping Hands, Inkwell Arts, Mafwa Theatre and St. Augustine’s Centre.

“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)

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)

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

Go behind the scenes during Open Day: Backstage Pass © Tom Arber


We’re committed to making our work accessible to ensure that everyone can enjoy a high-quality theatre experience. Find useful information on our Access section about our upcoming audio-described, captioned, signed and dementia friendly performances, services and partner venues to help plan your visit.

‘”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)

Get in touch

For more information, please contact Alice Gilmour and Tiph Kelly-Mancaux:
Phone: 07593 678 413

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


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