West Yorkshire Playhouse wins £1.4m lottery funding

THE West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds has been awarded a grant of more than £1.4 million from Arts Council England's National Lottery fund to run a two year programme of research and development.

The cash will help fund a number of new initiatives, pilot studies and creative projects.

It has been awarded as part of a national action research scheme being conducted by the Arts Council, which aims to explore the most effective ways of supporting organisational development at arts venues.

West Yorkshire Playhouse said the funding would allow it to explore ideas to inform a new business model for the theatre and develop relationships with other artists, organisations and companies.

It will also explore new ways of communicating with audiences and gaining feedback; working with communities in and around Leeds; and engaging with young people.

Audiences should expect upcoming seasons at the Playhouse to look a little different as a result of the project, the Playhouse added.

Sheena Wrigley, general director and joint chief executive at the Playhouse, said: "This is a fantastic way to begin our 21st birthday year and a great vote of confidence from Arts Council England in the work we produce and the significance of the Playhouse regionally and nationally.

"Receiving a grant of this scale provides us with a remarkable opportunity to explore and experiment with different ways of making and producing work, to reshape and modify our business operation and establish a resilient operating model for the future.

"The cultural landscape of the UK is changing and there will be challenges ahead, some forced upon us through funding cuts, others driven by artists and by our audiences.

"With the Arts Council's investment we are able to face these challenges head on and develop new ways of working which can inform not only our working practices but will hopefully have an impact on the wider arts sector."

Ian Brown, artistic director, added: "The Playhouse has been afforded a remarkable opportunity that so often only comes with the inception of a new physical building.

"We are being given the chance to look at every aspect of our business model and establish what currently works, and what needs revitalising, for what is certainly a leaner and more challenging cultural sector.

"This exercise can and will only make us a stronger and more determined producing theatre that the people of Leeds can be proud to have at the centre of their city."