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Leeds Grand Theatre is set to ‘sparkle and shine’ as NATIVITY! THE MUSICAL runs from Wednesday 20 December to Saturday 6 January 2018.

Based on the smash-hit films the show tells the tale of Mr Maddens and his crazy assistant Mr Poppy as they struggle with hilarious children, unruly animals and a whole lot of sparkle and shine to make everyone’s Christmas wish come true.



Featuring songs from the movies, including ‘Sparkle and Shine’, ‘Nazareth’ and ‘One Night One Moment’, NATIVITY! THE MUSICAL promises to be the perfect feel-good comedy for all the family.



“I am absolutely delighted to be working with this incredibly talented and hilariously funny musical theatre cast”, said writer/director Debbie Isitt. “It truly will be an emotionally soaring, feel good experience with beautiful singing and amazing choreography.”



The NATIVITY! film series is one of the most popular UK Christmas film franchises of recent years. NATIVITY!, NATIVITY 2 DANGER IN THE MANGER! and NATIVITY 3 DUDE WHERE’S MY DONKEY?! have all reached top box office positions on theatrical release, sold nearly two million DVDs, and captured the hearts and minds of families all over the UK.



NATIVITY! THE MUSICAL is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Wednesday 20 December – Saturday 6 January 2018. Tickets (£20.50 (RV) – £46) available from 0844 848 2700 or online at

(prices include a £3 booking fee. Postage charge £1 where applicable)

Photos: The Other Richard

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Second Dare Art Prize Announced



The pioneering DARE partnership between the University of Leeds and Opera North is seeking applications from creative practitioners in all media for the second DARE Art Prize.

Launched last year, the £15,000 prize is aimed at challenging artists and scientists to work together on new approaches to the creative process. Shortlisted proposals for the inaugural Prize included a whale choir and an exploration of cosmic bubbles, and the winning entry from Berlin-based composer Samuel Hertz: an electro-acoustic chamber piece incorporating sounds below the level of human hearing. Samuel is currently working on his commission, due to be unveiled in April next year, with performers from Opera North and academics from the University of Leeds.

The deadline for applications for the second DARE Arts Prize is 12 January 2018, and the winner – an innovative, ambitious, early-career artist who is motivated by the opportunity to work in partnership with leading scientific researchers at the University of Leeds – will be announced on 12 February.

The successful artist will be matched with a researcher who shares their vision and can bring knowledge, expertise and networks to support the creation of something new. There are no restrictions on the form of the outcome: depending on the interests of the collaborators and the direction that the work takes, it could be a piece of visual art, a dance performance, a poem, an interactive website or a cycle of new songs, but the project must be achievable within twelve months. It is expected that around £5,000 of the Award will be invested in the creation of new work.

Individual, independent artists working in all disciplines are invited to apply by submitting a CV and a 500-word proposition that summarises the area of scientific interest – from astrophysics to climate change, microbiology to nutrition; an ambition to create something new and the germ of an idea of what this might be; and a genuine wish to engage with academic researchers, expertise and resources at the University of Leeds. Access to musicians, studio space and resources from Opera North may also be available.

Applications will be judged by a panel comprising Opera North’s Dominic Gray, Professor John Ladbury, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences and Professor of Mechanistic Biology, School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Leeds, and Lisa Jamieson, former Head of Engaging Science at Wellcome, and now an independent advisor, consultant and assessor working in arts and culture.

Applications should be sent in the form of a pdf or Word document to Lesley Patrick, Partnerships Director at DARE:, before the deadline of 12 January 2018. Shortlist interviews will take place in the week commencing 5 February 2018, and the recipient will be announced on 12 February.

For more information on the DARE Prize and the partnership, visit


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A Winter Union: A Folky Festive Treat

Festive folk supergroup, A Winter Union are spreading Christmas cheer with their seasonal tour which lands at Otley Courthouse on December 22.

Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts (BBC Folk Award nominees Gilmore & Roberts, Emily Askew Band) Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, and Jade Rhiannon (The Willows) present a unique festive show with folk songs from across the Yuletide traditions. You’ll hear glorious wassails and carols of course, but also a smattering of country classics and covers, and brand new original songs hailing the joys of the season.

The songs are stirred together with such beautiful 5-part harmonies that you won’t be able to resist but join your voice with theirs.  There’ll be dobro and fiddle, mandolin and dulcimer, guitars a-plenty and a shruti box thrown in for good measure.

A Winter Union are touring throughout December 2017 following the release of their new single The King, available from, with all proceeds going to Missing People (reg. charity 1020419).


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Yorkshire Pottery Exhibition Highlights Democratisation of Art, Design & Culture


When a group of student curators at Leeds University started work on their new ceramics display, they were surprised to find a strong vein of democracy running through the clay. So they have called the exhibition Designing Yorkshire Pottery:  For the Many, Not the Few.

Yorkshire Pottery was for use and ornament, for people who could afford to have nice things but wanted them to be serviceable as well.

“You pick up these pieces from the nineteenth century, with their willow pattern designs and their romantic English landscapes done in Chinese style, and you’re handling mass market exoticism”, says Beth Arscott, one of the team from the MA course in art gallery and museum studies. “Yorkshire pottery is a real economic indicator of this period, when the middle classes were expanding.”

The small exhibition of just 22 pieces ranges from pierced creamware, such as an oil and vinegar cruet for the well-to-do of the eighteenth century, to a Chinese-inspired transferware plate of the next century. Using transfers instead of hand-painting techniques enabled mass-production and put orientalism on the tables of Headingley, Harrogate and Hull.

Handed down from generation to generation there are blue and white teacups and saucers, creamware jugs and willow pattern plates in corners and cupboards, on sills and sideboards across the county.

Creamware was first produced in Yorkshire in the mid-18th century and was bought by the upper and middle classes. But by the 19th century, it had become affordable for the general population too. As well as the transfer techniques for the Chinoiserie, machine piercing helped to speed up creamware production.

Potteries were mostly grouped in areas with good natural resources and waterways, so that the raw materials were close at hand. By 1835, Hunslet was home to at least eight potteries, all close to the River Aire.

The majority of pieces manufactured at this time were not marked. This makes it hard to attribute pieces to specific individuals and potteries. By the 20th century, the demand for Yorkshire pottery had declined. Other nations had caught up. Foreign competition and instability in the British economy caused many potteries to close.

In this exhibition of pieces from the university’s art collection, there are  piercings, twisted rope handles, braidings and flutings on bowls, baskets and dishes. There are signs too of how habits have changed – knife rests to protect tables and cloths, a jelly mould and a tiny floral teapot from the early nineteenth century when tea was expensive and drunk in small quantities.

Perhaps the quirkiest piece is a blue and white plate complete with oriental figures, bridge and sailing junk. And there, in the foreground, is a surprising pair of zebras, a little bit of Africa dropped into China and packaged for a Yorkshire tea table.

The displays are open to the public from 7th December 2017 to 3rd March 2018 in the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.

Open Mondays, 1pm – 5pm; Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

The student curators are Hedea Amiri, Han Yi Jin, Kate Stevens, Helena Perkis, Amarjit Singh Bath and Beth Arscott






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Keeping You Entertained


Leeds Grand Theatre, City Varieties Music Hall and Hyde Park Picture House have Christmas wrapped up! Throughout December and January there’s plenty of entertainment spread seasonal good cheer around.

On Sunday 4th December, the swinging sixties come to Leeds Grand in Sixties Gold. The sing-a-long show features a stellar line-up of 60s bands, including Gerry and The Pacemakers and The Searchers.

From Monday 5th to Sunday 17th December Northern Ballet presents The Little Mermaid. Choreographed by artistic director David Nixon, this beautiful new ballet reimagines the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale.

From Wednesday 20th December to Saturday 6th January join Mr Maddens, Mr Poppy and a heavenly host of hilarious children and unruly animals in Nativity! The Musical. This new show features all your favourite songs, including ‘Sparkle and Shine’, ‘Nazareth’ and ‘One Night One Moment’. It promises to be the perfect feel-good comedy for all the family.

At City Varieties Music Hall the Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto gives Aladdin the rock ‘n’ roll treatment. The soundtrack, played live on stage by the cast, is crammed with hit songs by well known bands and artists.  Expect familiar characters, corny jokes and the legendary ‘boulder fight’ – from Friday 24th November to Sunday 7th January.

A traditional treat at Hyde Park Picture House is the classic Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life. Join George, Clarence and the townsfolk of Bedford Falls for another telling of this wonderful, heart-warming story from 19th to 24th December. / 0844 848 2700 / 0113 243 0808 / 0113 275 2045

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Henry Moore’s Early Work Returns to Yorkshire

The exhibition ‘Becoming Henry Moore’ will open at the Henry Moore Institute, on 30th November as part of the Henry Moore Foundation’s 40th anniversary year. The exhibition charts the artist’s career from gifted schoolboy in his hometown of Castleford, Yorkshire, to one of the world’s most celebrated sculptors, and will bring home to the region Moore’s most important early works.

Becoming Henry Moore gives an insight into the artist’s creative development from 1914 to 1930. The exhibition explores the legacy of his student days in Yorkshire, and the generous support he received during his early ambition to be a sculptor – both from his art teacher and headmaster at his school in Castleford, and from influential friends and mentors whom he met at Leeds School of Art.

A highlight of the exhibition is Henry Moore’s first ever commission, which will be displayed in Yorkshire for the first time. The work is an oak First World War roll of honour listing ninety-one former pupils serving in the First World War, including Moore and his friends, which he made for his school in Castleford in 1916.

The exhibition will present Moore’s work in dialogue with artists who inspired him or worked alongside him. It will also include work by British contemporaries, such as Frank Dobson, Jacob Epstein, Barbara Hepworth and Leon Underwood; the European avant-gardes like Alexander Archipenko, Constantin Brancusi and Pablo Picasso; earlier artists such as Auguste Rodin and Michelangelo; examples of African, Aztec and Cycladic art from the British Museum; and publications that Moore read as a student and young artist.

After the First World War, Moore received an ex-serviceman’s grant to attend Leeds School of Art (1919-21), and later a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in London (1921-24). During this period, through numerous friendships and mentors, a wealth of art in public and private collections was opened up to Moore. It was in Leeds that he first encountered non-Western art, which proved to be a lifelong fascination and influence. He first saw works by contemporary artists during visits to the collections of Michael Sadler, the Vice Chancellor of Leeds University, and Charles Rutherston, the brother of Sir William Rothenstein, Principal of the Royal College of Art. At the Royal College, Moore followed the curriculum, which focused on copying classical Western art, but spent much of his spare time exploring the ethnographic collections of the British Museum and the displays in the South Kensington museums. Thanks to a travelling scholarship in 1925, Moore had his first direct encounter with early Italian wall painting and sculpture, which again played an important part in his artistic development.
These early influences and the opportunities Moore received in Yorkshire, and subsequently in London, were not only critical for the development of Moore’s early style, but they continued to inform his work for the rest of his career.

Becoming Henry Moore
Henry Moore Institute, 74 The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AH
30 November 2017 – 18 February 2018
Galleries are closed on Mondays.
Open 7 days a week, except Bank Holidays, from 11am to 5.30pm and until 8pm on Wednesdays.
T: +44 (0)113 246 7467

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World Renowned Fashion Photographer Explores his Yorkshire Roots

Alasdair McLellan, one of the UK’s leading fashion photographers, will be at the Hyde Park Picture House this Saturday, as part of a special live event, presented by Village Books.

The photographer will be in conversation with curators Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray, as they discuss McLellan’s formative years growing up in Yorkshire, the influence this had on his work, and the stories behind some of his most iconic images.

The event coincides with the opening of opening of North: Fashioning Identity at London’s Somerset House, an exhibition exploring how life in the North went on to influence generations of photographers, artists and designers. Featured in the exhibition is Infinity ’17, a new film by McLellan, which will also be screened at Hyde Park Picture House.

Born in Doncaster, McLellan studied photography in Nottingham, before beginning a career as a fashion photographer at i-D magazine. He has since gone on to produce work for publications including Vogue and Fantastic Man, as well as fashion brands Calvin Klein, Burberry and Louis Vuitton.


Alasdair McLellan, in conversation with Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray, presented by Village Books, will be at the Hyde Park Picture House on Saturday 25th November at 8.30pm. Tickets are £8, or £18 including the copy of the accompanying North: Fashioning Identity book. For more information and tickets visit:

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Festive Fun at WYP with Crumble’s Search for Christmas


Join West Yorkshire Playhouse for Crumble’s Search for Christmas this festive season, a heart-warming tale of friendship and adventure, written, devised and directed by Robert Alan Evans (The Night Before Christmas).

When winter comes it’s time for Crumble to hibernate. At least, that’s what Crumble has always been told. With the family hurrying and scurrying to make final preparations before the last leaf falls, a chance encounter sets curious Crumble on the most extraordinary adventure to discover the true meaning of Christmas.



“Creating a brand new Christmas production at the Playhouse is a fantastic opportunity, it’s always a delight to share a new story with the warm Leeds audiences,” said writer and director Robert Alan Evans. “Crumble’s Search for Christmas asks what Christmas might look like if you had never seen or experienced it before. It’s about discovery, bravery and how true friendship can be the best Christmas present in the world. The production is an hour-long family experience for both children and adults alike.”


Crumble’s Search for Christmas stars Leeds born Riana Duce who trained at York University (The Jungle Book, Manchester Open Air Theatre), Bradford born and RADA trained Lucy Bairstow (#DIGS, Theatre with Legs) and Leeds born Emily Goldie who trained at Manchester School of Theatre (Romeo and Juliet, HOME).

Crumble’s Search for Christmas plays in the Courtyard Theatre from Saturday 25 November to Saturday 30 December.

For more info and tickets click here

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New Performance Project Calls for Young Creatives

The Geraldine Connor Foundation is currently searching for young creatives aged 14+ and based in Leeds who are interested in music, spoken word, dance or film to create and take part in a production celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Windrush.
The ship called ‘Empire Windrush’ brought the first wave of Caribbean migrants to Britain in 1948, marking the beginning of the mass immigration movement in the UK that resulted in an estimated 172,000 West Indian born people living in the UK by 1961. To many, they are known as the Windrush Generation.The brand-new production will explore this momentous historical event and its impact in Britain today.Weekly workshop sessions will be on Monday’s 6-8pm at the Mandela Centre in Leeds, starting on Monday 20th November, and lead to performances in June 2018.

The GFC is looking for passionate and creative young people interested in exploring their cultural heritage to sign up for this exciting new project, which will also provides the opportunity to achieve the Arts Award at Bronze or Silver level.

Please note, these workshops are free to attend and, although this opportunity is unpaid, it is a fantastic chance to develop your creative skills and work alongside professional artists.

Want to find out more and express your interest?

Contact the Geraldine Connor Foundation by email at or call 0113 243 1166. For more details on this exciting project, click here.

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Be First to See Magical Lantern Festival and Support Jane Tomlinson Appeal


The Magical Lantern Festival is back at Roundhay Park from 24th November  – 1st January and the Jane Tomlinson Appeal is partner charity of the event for a second year.

Discover wonderful new lantern designs along the illuminated trail, including ‘Polar Bears on Ice’ and the ‘Chinese Temple of Heaven’. There will also be a tipi bar, Santa’s Grotto, fairground rides and a food and drink area, making it a perfect evening out for the whole family.

For one night only, 500 people can attend an exclusive preview night on Thursday 23rd November – with their ticket proceeds going directly to the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, which supports children and cancer causes across the North and Midlands. Last year’s preview night raised over £3,000 for the charity and it is set to raise even more this year.

Tickets are just £10 for adults and £5 for children (plus £1 booking fee), a saving on standard ticket prices.

“This is a unique opportunity to see this year’s display before anyone else, with all proceeds helping the Appeal to make a difference in your community”, said Kate Goldring, Manager of the Jane Tomlinson Appeal.

Purchase your preview night tickets here.

For further information on the festival, visit

Photographs by Richard Walker /


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