The Grand Futures Cultural Exchange returned for another year as we took a group of Year 10 Leeds City Academy students for three days of jam-packed work experience activities across Leeds’ cultural organisations.

Students took part in another varied and exciting programme including workshops with Leeds City College, Leeds Heritage Theatres, The Thackray Medical Museum, Channel 4, Leeds Playhouse and Northern Ballet. The focus of the programme is to demonstrate the variety of non-performance based careers available in the arts and culture sector, and students explored a variety of job roles including curating, programming, technical theatre and lighting design, script writing and costume design.

Tuesday started with a tour of Leeds City College where we talked about careers in which you can use skills learned in Art and Design, and then the group took part in a workshop designed to hone their drawing skills and introduce them to techniques that they can practice at home. That afternoon we headed over to Leeds Heritage Theatres, where we had a tour of the spectacular Grand Theatre and took part in a programming and marketing workshop to think about how to manage the schedule of shows happening at the theatre, as well as design a set and lighting for that show.

On Wednesday we headed over to The Thackray Medical Museum, where we discussed the role of a curator and Community Co-Producer Martha Adebambo explained how she got into her career. We then had a chance to roam around the museum and all of the interesting exhibitions as the group were given a task to create a social media promo video for the museum – we were really impressed by the results! That afternoon we walked over to the old Burtons factory where the upcoming Channel 4 show ‘Dance School’ is being filmed. We got to se how the factory had been transformed into a television set and chat a bit about careers behind the scenes in television, before returning to the Thackray for a character development workshop.

Thursday was our last day of the programme and we had a tour of Leeds Playhouse in the morning followed by a technical theatre workshop thinking about lighting and sound design for different shows. In the afternoon we had a short walk over to Northern Ballet where we had another tour and then explored the role of a Costume Designer, working in teams to create amazing costumes from scratch inspired by previous eye-catching costumes for theatre shows. 

The Grand Futures network is a collaboration between major arts organisations in Leeds to deliver exciting and eye-opening work experience opportunities to young people across the city. Recognising that the arts can often seem inaccessible and that there is a breadth of opportunities in it that are unknown, we hope to spotlight all the varied creative careers that make great art happen.

We are encouraging more schools to get involved with this brilliant programme. If you would like to find out more, please contact Catherine Hayward at Leeds Heritage Theatres [email protected].