News & Features

Ambitious redevelopment proposed by Opera North


Opera North is delighted to announce that it is seeking planning permission for an ambitious redevelopment project which will create a world-class centre for the arts in the heart of the city.

The plans, which have received the support of Leeds City Council’s Executive Board, will create improved facilities for audiences and artists, as well as a new Education Centre to house Opera North’s extensive programme of arts activities for children, young people and families.

The Howard Assembly Room, a ‘hidden gem’ of a venue, which is programmed and managed by Opera North and currently accessed via Leeds Grand Theatre, will have its own dedicated entrance and box office, with a new restaurant and bar replacing a row of vacant shop units directly beneath the venue on New Briggate. A new atrium space will link the restaurant and bar space with stairs and lift access directly to the Howard Assembly Room, as well as improved front of house facilities for audiences at the venue.

An extended artistic programme will increase the number of performances, gigs and events held at the Howard Assembly Room, bringing more of the best global artists to Leeds each year. Celebrated for its diverse, cross-genre programme, the Howard Assembly Room hosts events including film screenings, talks and spoken word, classical recitals, jazz, electronic, folk and roots gigs, chamber opera productions, installations, and innovative new commissions. The Howard Assembly Room celebrates its 10th anniversary in January 2019.

Further development of Opera North’s estate on Harrison Street, between New Briggate and Vicar Lane will create a truly world-class artistic hub, connecting the Company’s primary rehearsal spaces, administrative offices and costume department with new music practice rooms and a chorus and orchestra rehearsal room.

A new fit-for-purpose Education Centre will house Opera North’s award-winning Education work, including studio rehearsal spaces and teaching facilities for Youth Ensembles, activity spaces for Early Years and Family groups, Schools’ workshops, and singing groups and courses for adults. Education is an extensive part of Opera North’s work, with an annual turnover of over £1million invested in the region’s young people, helping to shape futures and inspire lifelong engagement with music and the arts.

One of England’s largest creative companies, Opera North is a key driver of artistic innovation and skills in the region, permanently employing over 250 people including highly skilled electricians, stage technicians, props makers, sound and lighting technicians, costume-makers, stage managers, educators, administrators, designers, filmmakers and, of course, musicians, in addition to freelance performers, creatives and artists.

Interested parties are invited to attend a public consultation event on the capital redevelopment project, which will be held at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, on Thursday 26 April, from 5.30pm - 7.30pm.

What you say

Comment from Jonathan Sheard


Jonathan Sheard said ago

Great news for Opera North & for Leeds

Comment from Julia Maybury


Julia Maybury said ago

Congratulations. Developing the front with the closed shops will really enhance arriving looking for somewhere to eat and then access Howard Rooms more easily is good news. Opera North and the diversity of the Howard programme makes the effort of travelling from Upper Calder Valley to Leeds worth it. Look forward to hearing more. Thank you Julia Maybury

Comment from john hepworth


john hepworth said ago

Good to see more thought going into wheelchair accessibility.

Comment from heather


heather said ago

It would be great if the prices for tickets could be lowered as there are people unable to work due to illness etc and unable to afford to go and would love the opportunity to go or to see the new venue. Opera North response: Hi Heather. We offer a range of prices for opera performances, starting at £15 and with concessions available. Prices in the Howard Assembly Room vary depending on the event, with films from £5 and with concessions on tickets £15 or above. We also have an access membership scheme and subsidised tickets available through Community Partnerships. We’d be delighted to talk to you about what might be suitable. Email for more details.

Comment from Nicholas Dobson


Nicholas Dobson said ago

Good news for both Opera North and Leeds as a leading cultural centre.

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