Leeds is now the first UK city to have two Theatres of Sanctuary, with Opera North joining Leeds Playhouse theatre as one of only a few in the country.
Opera North has become the first opera company in the country to be awarded Theatre of Sanctuary status by City of Sanctuary UK in recognition of its ongoing work with refugees and asylum seekers.
To become a Theatre of Sanctuary, a company must demonstrate commitment to making refugees and asylum seekers feel valued, celebrated, and included.
The accolade was given to Opera North as a result of its initiatives to increase accessibility to music, drama and opera, for giving refugees and asylum seekers a voice on stage, and for building important social and creative connections for individuals who can feel isolated and excluded, living in an unfamiliar place and often having suffered traumatic and life-changing experiences.
The panel was impressed by the Opera North Encore Scheme which currently numbers over 100 community groups in Leeds, including many which provide emotional and practical help to people seeking sanctuary in the city.
The experiences of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are also reflected on stage and within Opera North’s artistic programme.
The Company’s 2018 Resonance artist development programme included a project by Thandanani Gumede, which explored the theme of migration and the difficulties of visa renewal.
Mary Brandon from City of Sanctuary said:
Madeleine Thorne, Head of Community Partnerships at Opera North, said:
- Others have expressed their appreciation for Opera North:
- The Theatre of Sanctuary award will be presented to Opera North at the Christmas Sanctuary Supper at the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds on Thursday 20 December.