Working in partnership to create new knowledge, enhance skills and inspire creativity, that strengthens learners, makers and places. Explore our work with Higher Education institutions, recent projects, and how you can get involved.


Our Research Agenda was created to spark new ideas and encourage interdisciplinary work relevant to the cultural sector.

Initiatives include collaborative PhDs with the University of Leeds exploring themes such as arts engagement and storytelling as pathways to solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers; and investigating evaluation models for music education programmes.

Launched in 2016, the DARE Art Prize encourages and challenges artists and scientists to work together on new approaches to the creative process. Attracting applications from around the world, artists are invited to demonstrate a desire to engage with scientific researchers from the University of Leeds, leading to the creation of new work. Prize-winners to date have explored alternative ways to represent climate change; human perception and Artificial Intelligence; and the impact of infrasound on the human mood.

Saphires and Lemurs (bookwork detail) Redell Olsen, DARE Art Prize winner 2020/21

A series of ‘sandpits’ with universities including Leeds, Newcastle and Hull, have brought academics and practitioners together to explore themes including music and neurodiversity, the nature of tears, and the many ways of meaning-making on stage.

“At the DARE sandpit ‘World Without Antibiotics’, it was fascinating to see how the issue could be approached from a range of perspectives. It shows what exciting things can happen when you put different people together who might not normally meet to discuss a topic”

Dr Marta Cobb, Senior Congress Officer International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds

This sandpit inspired DARE Cultural Fellow Becs Andrews to create the installation Phase Revival: an Optical Harmonica with artist Dave Lynch.

Public Engagement

We work with university partners to enrich the cultural life of our city.

DARE: Opera North and the University of Leeds

DARE is the pioneering collaboration between Opera North and the University of Leeds, the first of its kind.

We bring the very best of both organisations together to play a positive role in shaping the future of arts and learning regionally, nationally and internationally.

Through this ‘third organisation’, we create new opportunities for student learning at the heart of a leading opera company, for research relevant to the contemporary cultural sector, and for new work and new thinking that challenges perspectives and enriches intellectual and artistic life.

Events curated in partnership with the University of Leeds and hosted at the Howard Assembly Room include the Liberty Lectures series and the DARE International Film Series. A new series of podcasts, Thinking with Opera, was launched in 2021.

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“With our colleagues at Opera North we are able to explore the deep creativity that cuts across all subject areas in often quite radical ways, and to work in partnership to practise and celebrate the value of culture in our city.”

Professor Frank Finlay, Dean of Cultural Engagement & Director of the Cultural Institute, University of Leeds


Skills development

We enable students from across the academic spectrum to learn directly from professionals in all areas of the Company, from marketing and fundraising to technical and performance. Activity includes paid internships, live project briefs, workshops, talks, masterclasses and participation in the rehearsal process.

“I am ambitious to work in the theatre, and it was really valuable having the chance to talk with people experienced in casting. These workshops have taught me so much about what I should be doing. And what I shouldn’t!”

Student, University of Hull

Pettman DARE Fellowships

A Pettman DARE Fellowship in Music Education Project Management provides early career professionals in music engagement with a year of practice-led research in the Education department at Opera North and at the University of Leeds, before progressing to the next stage in their career.

The Fellowship runs for twelve months from September and is accredited as a Post-Graduate Diploma from the University of Leeds.

“The Pettman DARE Fellowship provided me with an incredible foundation of knowledge, skills and experience, which I now use in my role as Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Royal Albert Hall.”

Eleanor Jones, Pettman DARE Fellow 2018

Leeds Conservatoire

Building on the long history of collaboration between two of Leeds’ leading musical institutions, the partnership between Opera North and Leeds Conservatoire provides students with direct links to the industry. Opportunities include playing side-by-side with the Orchestra of Opera North; observing the orchestral and opera production and rehearsal process; working with conductors and chorus masters on repertoire; and having access to workshops and masterclasses with visiting artists.

“The one-to-one conversations during lockdown were inspiring. Bassoonist David Baker gave me so much helpful advice and I now feel so much more knowledgeable about potential career paths I might want to take as a performer.”

Flora Taylor, student Leeds Conservatoire

Leeds Conservatoire Chamber Orchestra. Image by Richard Storrow.

Get in touch

Phone: +44 (0)113 399 3207
Twitter: @opera_north_HE


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