The Society makes grants both to individuals and to organisations in support of cultural and scientific activities which increase innovation, outreach and diversity in Leeds and its immediate area. It also supports local museums and galleries and publications relating to the city.

About the Society

The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, founded in 1819, is a charity that promotes interest in science, literature and the arts – in the city of Leeds and beyond. We have meetings, lectures, entertainments, publications and visits.

Audio tour of Leeds Art Gallery: POWER

Funding supported our additional events programme as part of the Leeds Opera Festival 2022. Predominantly funding supported our audio tour of Leeds Art Gallery.

Working with volunteers from the Gallery’s ‘Meet and Make’ group we created an audio guide to items from the Gallery’s collection that reflected the Festival’s theme of POWER.

They were able to work with Northern Opera Group’s Artistic Director, David Ward, and curators from the Gallery to explore this theme, and identify items that they wanted to explore. Ten items were eventually chosen, with each participant recording an audio commentary reflecting their thoughts on the piece, and it’s relation to the idea of POWER.

The audio guide was uploaded to the Gallery website and available for free for visitors to listen to during the Festival period. The audio tour achieved over 250 listens, and we were pleased to welcome the volunteers to our main Festival production of Handel’s ‘Silla’. This was the first time most participants had attended an opera, and supported our aims to bring together the various events of the Festival and create opportunity for participants, audiences and artists to take advantage of various part of the Festival.

The project succeeded in its main aims to

– Demonstrate the links between art and opera, and support the cross-promotion of existing audiences for both art forms
– Promote the creativity and artistic voices of participants, celebrating their contributions
– Improve participants’ skills in curation, writing for audio, and audio recording
– Provide new and diverse experiences for Festival audiences to engage with other creative organisations in the city

Across the rest of the Festival, we welcomed over 3,000 audiences and participants for productions, workshops and other events. Our headline production of ‘Silla’ received exceptionally positive reviews (including 5* from Opera Now) and we visited 12 different areas of Leeds during the two weeks. This video provides an overview of the Festival:

We enjoyed working with Leeds Art Gallery and the partnership’s ability for each of us to reach different participants and audiences. We are already planning another project alongside our 2023 Festival, which will see participants create their own artworks that reflect their individual identities and heritage; this is inspired by our main Festival production of ‘Frida’ (the life of Frida Kahlo).

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