Here we tell the story of Leeds Playhouse's 2021 "Reasons to be Hopeful" project which Leeds Arts Health and Wellbeing Network has partnered on through raising awareness, sharing opportunities and disseminating learning.
REASONS TO BE HOPEFUL was an intergenerational project by Leeds Playhouse that has connected 100 people (aged 16 – 25 and from 50 – 92) with 10 artists for 10 weeks between February and May of 2021 – to support people through the 3rd Lockdown.
Leeds Playhouse held 93 sessions, wrote 200 letters, held 18 socially distanced meet-ups, and supported people one-to-one. They connected with Leeds Older People’s Forum, Touchstone BME dementia service, and our Network to reach as many new participants as possible (44% of participants were new to the Playhouse).
Research showed people having an increased sense of isolation during the pandemic affected multiple generations. Therefore it felt important to create an accessible Age Friendly activity to bring those generations together.
People took part through online sessions, via the phone, via letter writing and via email and Leeds Playhouse supported people one to one from taking part. From residents in care homes, to older people with no access to the internet, to vulnerable young people.
The workshops resulted in a multi-media tapestry of hope which is displayed on the windows of the Leeds Playhouse building. It tells a multi-faceted story of people’s pandemic experiences. There is also ways to access to art work online, via YouTube and SoundCloud.
The art sessions included: drawing, letter writing, textiles, model making, costume-making, drama, film and song writing. An example of the art work is this bilingual song written by participants and facilitated by Artist Manuka – who is currently residing in Goa, India.
The following words, written by the participants who curated the exhibition, are now the first thing you see when approaching the Playhouse:
“This is the highlight of my week, coming online and chatting to you lot.
10 weeks ago we were just 100 strangers living through an uncertain time.
Through Reasons To Be Hopeful, we connected via Zoom, email and letter writing, sharing our pandemic experiences and building new relationships. Expressing ourselves through collaborative art practice, we have created multi-media pieces of art. This work you can see in our Playhouse windows.
[…]We found new forms of connection across generations and distance.
This collaborative project has enriched the lives of all of us, from 16 to 92 year olds. We hope our multi-media tapestry inspires you.
We have found many reasons to be hopeful – what are yours?”
You can learn more about the project on the Leeds Playhouse website here: https://leedsplayhouse.org.uk/events/reasons-to-be-hopeful/