2017 Leeds Creative Labs: DARE Edition

8 May – 5 July 2017.

DARE Creative Labs, a Leeds Cultural Institute initiative, is an opportunity for a practitioner in the Performing Arts and an academic to spend time together to talk and explore, with no brief other than to SEE WHAT HAPPENS…… an unexpected, playful liaison over three flexible days that allows partners to breathe and think freely.

Sharing ideas and experiences without deadlines and targets can bring new dimensions to the creative process and reveal how, through partnership, knowledge can have greater relevance to the cultural sector.

The four 2017 Labs were matched in May and will share the fruits of their conversations at the Howard Assembly Room on 5 July.

  • Middle Child Theatre, a Hull-based company creating “gig theatre” for the gig economy, have been matched with Kerri Woods, a Lecturer in Political Theory in the School of Politics and International Studies.
  • Javaad Alipoor, Javaad Alipoor, a writer, theatre-maker and artistic director based in Bradford, will be working with Ornella Iuorio, Lecturer in Architecture in the School of Civil Engineering.
  • RJC Dance, the leading inclusive black dance organisation in the North, are collaborating with Andy Stafford, Senior Lecturer in French in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies.
  • Knaïve Theatre, a Leeds-based partnership that exists to connect, challenge and empower audiences, are matched with Martin Zebracki, Lecturer in Critical Human Geography in the School of Geography.

Leeds Creative Labs: DARE Edition is an initiative developed and funded by the Cultural Institute at the University of Leeds through the University’s DARE partnership with Opera North. Seven DARE Edition collaborations have taken place since 2015, watch short videos of their journey to see how programme inspired and challenged them.

See here for a case study of Leeds Creative Labs: DARE Edition


Past Labs

Seven DARE Edition Labs have taken place since 2015, with arts partners from across the performing arts sector including dance, opera and theatre; and academics from Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Education as well as Arts & Humanities.

It is fascinating how individuals who at first glance may have limited common ground discover inspiring areas of shared interest over a coffee and conversation; and who’s creative practice and research take on new dimensions as a result.

In 2015, Cap-a-Pie, SAA-UK and Opera North took part with academic partners from the Schools of Modern Languages, Performance & Cultural Industries and Education. See here for a few insights into the 2015 Labs, and here for short films of their Lab journey.

2016 saw tutti frutti, RashDash, Phoenix Dance and Opera North partner with academics from Biological Sciences and Chemistry.  See here how it has inspired them to think and work differently.

The journeys didn’t end with the Creative Labs showcase event….

Dr Terry Kee (School of Chemistry) and Abi Greeland Helen Goalan from Rash Dash continue to meet regularly.  Terry is an advisor on a new RashDash commission and is investigating how the partnership could add value to the teaching and learning of the Discovery Themes of Leeds Curriculum bringing together students from both the arts and sciences.

“Participating in DARE Creative Labs has opened new possibilities for student learning.” Dr Terry Kee, Reader, School of Chemistry, DARE Creative Labs 2016

Wendy Harris CEO of tutti-frutti and Dr Stephanie Steels, Dr Helen Atherton (School of Healthcare) are exploring the idea first created through the Labs, towards developing a production that Tutti Frutti would tour nationally. Stephanie is also learning about creative R&D techniques that could be transferred to use in clinical training and practice.

As artistic director of tutti frutti there is little space or time to take  from the business of running a company or for making our creative work. DARE gave me permission to do exactly that, to take some time away to  meet new people with new  ideas  and new ways of seeing the world.  I’m hoping the seeds of ideas planted  in this unique ‘DARE’ space  will flourish into some  creative work over the next two years. The other surprising outcome was it  reminded me just how amazing my job is and that sharing  a playful, creative approach with  new colleagues, who  had never worked in this way, was joyful.  Thanks to all who made it possible’.

Wendy Harris, Artistic Director, tutti frutti, DARE Creative Labs 2016

Dominic Gray, Projects Director at Opera North and Professor John Ladbury (Faculty of Biological Sciences), based on their Lab conversations, have created the first DARE Art Prize aimed at challenging artists and scientists to work together on new approaches to the creative process.

Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance and Professor Nicola Stonehouse & Professor Mark Harris (School of Molecular and Cellular Biology), through the Lab, entered worlds that they would not otherwise have encountered in their professional life. In watching films of virus assembly created through Nichola and Mark’s research, Sharon drew parallels with a dance technique called mapping, which has inspired them to create a new piece of work driven by beauty and informed by science.