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In 2007 Opera North and the University of Leeds committed to work together to deliver an outstanding and challenging programme, which leads cultural thought, learning and practice. Since then DARE has combined artistic and academic excellence from across both organisations, working with partners regionally, nationally and internationally, to make a positive difference in ways that could not be achieved by working alone. Learning and research is at the heart of all that we do; for the practitioner, the artist, the academic, the student and the audience; reaching into the core of the cultural sector and beyond into science, business, medicine and more. This Review provides a brief glimpse of just some of our work to date and how it is shaping our vision for the future. It is but a snapshot. We hope it gives you a flavour of the quality, diversity and impact of DARE and we invite you to join us for what is sure to be an exhilarating journey.

Richard Mantle General Director, Opera North

Sir Alan Langlands Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds

ÂŁ2.5 m New funding

Cover photo: Malcolm Johnson Photo below: Damian McDonald

+ 10,000 Students benefit

+ 200 Projects

+ 80

Conferences and symposia Photo: Brian Slater

Photo: Damian McDonald

Artistic and cultural provision is vital to intellectual life and the health and well being of communities. The AHRC is committed to developing high quality partnerships between researchers and practitioners. DARE is a model of collaborative excellence that inspires research relevant to contemporary society and provides an exciting new framework through which far-reaching impact can be achieved.

In order to produce great shows and exhibitions arts organisations need to be robust businesses with diverse revenue streams. We recognised the need to improve our fundraising skills and in 2013 Arts Council England supported the launch of the Arts Fundraising Programme Fellowships - the first initiative of its kind in the UK and a programme that grew out of the DARE collaboration between Opera North and University of Leeds.

Professor Andrew Thompson, Professor of Modern History University of Exeter and member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

We’re now in year 2 of that initiative and have confirmed additional funding to expand this inspiring programme nationally in 2015 which stands as a testament not only to the success of the programme to date but also to the DARE partnership. Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chairman Arts Council England


50 Creative works & research


programmes 3

DARE Connect

Public lectures, conferences and debates connect the expert and the curious, the practitioner and the academic, to challenge perspectives and share ideas.

DARE Liberty Lectures explore the most significant topics at the heart of contemporary society.

DARE Conferences and Symposia provide a new model for stimulating original thinking.

Emerging from a 2011 lecture that reflected the themes of politics and incarceration in Opera North’s production of Fidelio, DARE Liberty Lectures have become an established part of Leeds’ cultural offer.

20 conferences and symposia have been inspired by DARE Sandpits, Opera North’s programme, and contemporary culture.

Influential commentator Paul Mason looked at how social networking has ignited a new generation of radicals, 2014. Journalist Seumus Milne revealed the extent of NUM infiltration and surveillance during the 1984 miner’s strike, 2014. Scholar Sigmund Bauman discussed the concept of martyr to hero to celebrity, 2013. Philosopher Simon Critchley examined democracy post-9/11, 2012.

Delegates and speakers from diverse backgrounds have explored subjects including The Impact of Richard Wagner 2013; The Theory, Practice and Business of Opera 2012; Cultural Reflections and the Consequences of the 1984/5 Miners’ Strike, 2011; Cosmetic Surgery and Popular Culture, 2009; Elektra: Vengeance and Desire, 2008; America Elects, 2008; The Orpheus Myth and Modern Culture, 2007. In 2014, The Art of Risk, led by CCI Exchange at the University of Leeds and Opera North Project, was inspired by the Sandpit Music and Violence. It opened with provocations from specialists including a professional gambler, radio DJ, a professor of obstetrics and a former drug dealer.

Writer Tariq Ali discussed causes and consequences of war over the last century, 2011. Human rights lawyer Gareth Pierce spoke on imprisonment, torture, secrecy and the possibility for justice in the 21st Century, 2011.

DARE Talks enhance the performance programme.

DARE Sandpits bring together practitioners and academics to share experience, opinion and perception.

10 talks, events and introductions to film screenings by academics take place each year in Opera North’s Howard Assembly Room. Inspired by Opera North’s mainstage programme, topics have included Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw and the film The Battle of Algiers.

A diverse spectrum of participants from psychologists and scientists to medievalists and poets came together to explore topics including:Music and Violence, which led to the creation of Performing Violence, a research initiative developed by the Memory, Trauma and Violence Research Cluster at the University of Leeds. A World Without Antibiotics, which inspired DARE Fellow Becs Andrews to co-create Transmission, a contemporary dance piece and installation about infectious diseases and infectious ideas. Music and Mental Health; Autism and Opera, which inspired further research and the writing of a new opera Two Weeks of Autistic Bedtimes. Other topics include Benjamin Britten; Centenary of the First World War; St George; Berg’s Lulu; and The Music of the Spheres.

Photo: Moy Williams


Photo: Brian Slater

Photo: Leeds Media Services


DARE Create

Photo: Malcolm Johnson

DARE’s unique position straddling higher education and the arts has produced varied, imaginative and cutting edge research, work and publications. The DARE Research Agenda aims to create and share new knowledge that informs thinking and practice in opera. Two DARE Fellowships in Opera Related Arts allowed emerging leaders in scenography and composition to develop their work through lively interaction with two of the country’s foremost cultural and academic institutions. Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s work included composing Amy’s Last Dive (main picture), a project led by writer, librettist and DARE PhD student Adam Strickson, as part of the London 2012 i-Move programme; and recording You Promised me Everything.

This rare opportunity to have access to such a wealth of intellectual and artistic resources has allowed me to flex my creative muscles. Cheryl Frances-Hoad DARE Fellow in Opera Related Arts: composition Scenographer Becs Andrews drew inspiration from biological research to devise Transmission (inset), a contemporary dance piece and interactive installation about infectious diseases and infectious ideas. This followed her 2012 installation Phase Revival, which brought together the worlds of art, music and hard science. Two AHRC funded collaborative PhDs researched through practice ‘Compositional responses to source and libretto’ and ‘Adaptation and the Libretto’, topics relevant and important to the development of opera as an artform. DARE is a partner in research projects including Discovering Dante, Performing the Jewish Archive and Cultural Value; and is represented on a number of advisory boards including AHRC and the White Rose University Consortium. The first Opera North Archive was established in 2014 and is held within the University’s Special Collections.

Operatic Encounters: Common Voices

Photo: Workshop Operatic Encounters: Common Voices

One of the first and ongoing DARE Research projects, 2008-10, brought together DARE, Bregenz Festival, Sibelius Institute and Shanghai Theatre Academy to explore points of cultural connection through opera (inset). It created deeper cultural understanding between Europe and China and a lasting partnership. DARE Publications include Opera North: Historical and Dramaturgical Perspectives on Opera Studies by Dr Kara McKechnie, who spent four years researching at the heart of Opera North.

Photo: Chris Nash for Becs Andrews Company.



DARE Academy

Photo: Bill Cooper

DEVELOPING THE NEXT GENERATION Practice-based learning that increases knowledge, expertise and skill.

Photo: Simon Dewhurst

Professionalising Arts Fundraising

Increasing Student Employability

DARE co-led a successful bid for a £2m Arts Council England Transforming Arts Fundraising grant to create Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy (AFP) and deliver a nationwide programme of professional development opportunities for Arts Fundraisers.

Over 2000 students have participated in more than 50 bespoke seminars, masterclasses and behind the scenes insights led by Opera North specialists, from voice coach to General Director.

The first DARE Fundraising Fellows completed their twelve-month traineeship in 2014, with partners including Liverpool Philharmonic, Hull Truck Theatre, Royal Northern College of Music, Sage Gateshead, York Theatre Royal and Liverpool Biennial. A further ten Fellows in the North will graduate in 2015-16.

More than 40 undergraduates have undertaken internships at the heart of Opera North, from Costume to HR, with 5 going on to paid roles within the Company.

As part of the programme, the University of Leeds created the first PG-Certificate in Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy and the first National Summer School in Arts Fundraising and Leadership.

The Fellowships programme has provided a platform for me to be an ‘enabler’ of artistic excellence and inspiring educational projects. Bex Shindler Fundraising Fellow, Tate Liverpool 2013/14

It was the DARE placement that started it all for me. I did an undergraduate placement, then a post-graduate internship, which led to job of Chorus and Orchestra Assistant. It is the most incredible scheme – I owe my future career to it! Emma Black former DARE Intern.

Photo: Damian McDonald

Film-making students have recorded interviews and rehearsals, for Opera North Communications. MBA students have undertaken live projects on topics including economic impact.

Fundraising Fellowships in London and the South West are managed by Cause4 and AFP has a national, diverse training offer.

Volunteers have worked on Opera North initiatives for young people with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Developing Music Education Leadership skills

Over 200 students of Collaborative Applied Theatre worked with Opera North Education in developing primary school workshops.

In 2010 DARE launched the Pettman Dare Scholarships. By 2014 the first 4 Scholars had benefitted from bespoke development in areas including stage technologies and the business of an opera company.

110 music students participated in a ten-week project led by Opera North’s Head of Music, to perform Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb.

In 2014 DARE launched the Pettman Dare Scholarships in Music Education Leadership, the first practice-based programme of its kind. 11 talented Scholars from the UK and New Zealand will complete the programme by 2020.

This opportunity will enable a whole cohort of music educators to lift their practice to a significantly higher level.

Dr Joe Harrop Programme Director, Sistema Aotearoa

Through initiatives such as the Pettman Dare Scholarships, we move closer towards a future where all young people, regardless of circumstance, have access to life-changing opportunities. Jeremy Newton Chief Executive, The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts


2 paid Research Scholars worked on DARE conferences.

Developing Emerging Composers 2 DARE New Composers Forums have given 10 early career composers a rare chance to develop and record work with the Orchestra of Opera North.

It is a seriously good career opportunity to hear my music played by, and to get feedback from this major orchestra.

Jacob Thompson-Bell DARE New Composer

It benefits the orchestra because it stretches us and keeps us in touch with new music.

Catherine Lowe Oboe, Orchestra of Opera North


DARE Collaborate

The DARE collaboration is more than a partnership between two institutions, it is a vehicle through which multiple sectors, audiences, individuals and organisations can share and create knowledge and activity that achieves more than any party acting alone.

Photo: Richard Moran

Acknowledgments DARE activity has been made possible through the generous support of funders including:




Professor Barrie Mrs Maureen Pettman

Just a few of DARE’s Project connections Aldeburgh Music

Royal Northern College of Music

Arts Fund Raising & Philanthropy

Sage Gateshead

Bregenz Festival

Sibelius Academy

East Street Arts

Shanghai Theatre Academy

Emerald Publishing

Slung Low Theatre Company

Forced Entertainment

Southbank Centre

Harvard University

Tate Liverpool

Hull Truck Theatre

Thackray Museum

Leeds Arts Gallery

University of Auckland

Leeds City Council

University of Bristol

Liverpool Philharmonic

University College London

Liverpool Biennial

Queen Mary University

Museums Journal

York Theatre Royal

Music Theatre Wales

Verso Books

New Zealand Opera

West Yorkshire Playhouse

N8 Universities

White Rose Universities

Phoenix Dance Theatre



For further information about

DARE: Email: Web: An electronic version of this leaflet is available at:

Charity No: 511726

Dare review 2014  
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