West Yorkshire Playhouse to host dementia-friendly theatre festival

James Brining, artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse
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West Yorkshire Playhouse will develop a festival that explores living with dementia, after receiving £99,950 from Arts Council England.

The Festival of Theatre and Dementia will include a newly commissioned play, as well as three short plays created by people with dementia, which will be performed in care homes.

There will also be a series of workshops, panel events and exhibitions.

It follows a series of initiatives from the theatre in this area. In 2014, the Leeds venue was awarded a grant of £103,000 by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to develop a three-year project of work for people living with the condition, introducing the UK’s first dementia-friendly performance the same year.

Artistic director James Brining said: “We’re incredibly proud to develop our Festival of Theatre and Dementia, which will support people living with dementia to contribute creatively at every level of planning, curating and hosting, ensuring that it is relevant and respectful to people living with the condition.”

Other work in the area includes a best practice guide informing other venues and organisations on how to meet the needs of people with dementia, which the theatre published last year.

West Yorkshire Playhouse community development manager, Nicky Taylor, added: “While people with dementia face huge challenges, feeling connected and valued by their community can have an enormous impact on feelings of confidence and self-worth.”