A unique partnership between Kirklees Libraries and Lawrence Batley Theatre aims to improve health and tackle isolation by taking art to the people. 

‘Sharing Stories Standing Strong’ will reinvigorate volunteering in the arts in communities where engagement with cultural activities is low. Residents can connect with their local library, improve their wellbeing and learn creative skills.

A multi-disciplinary team of Lawrence Batley Theatre artists will work with residents in Ashbrow, Batley, Birkby, Dewsbury, Rawthorpe and Ravensthorpe where research has shown communities do not engage as much with cultural activities.

The artists will create new artwork with library users inspired by local stories. A Cultural Champions scheme will support library users to go to shows at Lawrence Batley Theatre with the opportunity to become an advocate in the local community.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, the project was originally organised in response to the isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic but due to funding delays will now launch this month.

Clr Paul Davies, Cabinet member for corporate services, said: “I am delighted to see Kirklees Libraries strengthen their relationship with Lawrence Batley Theatre in order to support local residents.

“By using research and engaging with residents to identify local community needs we can help people who are still grappling with the impact of the pandemic.

“Not only will this partnership improve people’s health and wellbeing but it will also enable people to learn new skills and share their stories in a really creative way.”

Becky Atkinson, CEO at Lawrence Batley Theatre, said: “I am thrilled to continue our partnership with Kirklees Libraries. This new project will bring groups of local people together with an artist in the room to give them the space and tools to explore their creativity.

“This venture pushes our mission at the Lawrence Batley Theatre to build a stronger sense of community and nurture talent in local people.

“We will have the chance to inspire people across Kirklees right on their doorstep. A spark of creativity is often all it takes to transform somebody’s life. Thanks to Arts Council England for funding this brilliant partnership to empower our community to share their stories.”