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Opera North

Opera North is a national opera company based in Leeds and is a leading UK arts organisation. Rooted in the North of England, international in outlook, we create extraordinary experiences, every day. Our award-winning work tours to theatre stages and concert halls throughout the North and beyond, including to London and major international festivals, and we curate an eclectic artistic programme of gigs, concerts, spoken word and film in the Howard Assembly Room. Our aim is to make bold, innovative, ambitious work and share it in new ways. Opera North believes opera and music is for everyone, and champions diversity in artists, repertoire and audiences. Opera North connects with communities and inspires each generation, aiming to enhance the health and well-being of people in the communities where we work through arts participation and performance.

25 November 2019
Yorkshire and Humber
Local Alliances:
Leeds Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

As a large publicly funded arts organisation, we put accessibility at the heart of what we do.  This means making sure our performances are accessible to all, along with the surrounding work we do with arts participation to increase well-being and strengthen communities.  Our role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers means ensuring that they can enjoy an evening out at the theatre or the Howard Assembly Room in a supportive and understanding environment.  This means making sure their experience with us is pleasurable and supportive from beginning to end – from the booking of tickets, to their time in the venue and covering all the different outreach activities we programme throughout the year.  It means they can feel comfortable coming to anything, be it a singing workshop, taster performance, or pre-show talk, knowing that the company as a whole is dementia-aware and that appropriate care and consideration is taken when planning any activity.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Challenges to delivering these outcomes include training the whole organisation, from box office through to technical teams to being more dementia-friendly; making sure we communicate as much as possible with the venues we perform in to make sure their front-of-house staff are as welcoming as possible to people with dementia; and making sure our community and education work continues to expand to include as many older-people’s support groups and organisations working with people with dementia as possible.

Member website


2. Actions

  • Undertake our first dementia-friendly performance of an opera.

    Our first dementia-friendly opera, La boheme took place on Thursday October 24 at 2.30pm in Leeds Grand Theatre.

  • Increase the offer from our Education department for people with Dementia via singing workshops / Dementia Cafes, especially when we reopen after our Capital redevelopment with our new Education department space.

    We have a project underway which will take place in August / September with a singer/songwriter who will work in four key areas around Leeds using music to work with older people with dementia.  This pilot scheme will then be used as a tool to develop a wider programme of Dementia Cafes when our Premier House redevelopment is complete in the summer of 2020.

    Being implemented

    2019 - Fourth Quarter Update

    The workshops took place throughout September in three locations over three weeks.  And the participants were then invited to attend the dementia friendly performance on 24 October.  We will use the knowledge obtained during this project to inform our planning of the services we can offer people living with dementia when we move back into our building in 2020.

  • Offer Dementia friendly training to the whole organisation.

    Alice Gilmour (Access Officer) will become a Dementia Champion (training day June 6 in Leeds), along with another member of staff.  And a training plan will be put in place for the whole company, including offering it to the external performing artists when they arrive for rehearsals for La boheme at the end of August)


    2019 - Fourth Quarter Update

    155 members of the company have attended Dementia Friends information sessions.  And we will continue to offer them regularly for new starters.