The Huddersfield-based Kirklees Theatre Trust, which runs the Lawrence Batley Theatre, has been awarded £124,957 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports, delivered by Arts Council England. 

They are one of over 160 community organisations set to support 7,800 new volunteering opportunities over the next two years, as part of the government funding. 

The Lawrence Batley Theatre are administering the funding and will work with local cultural organisations to create a joined-up Young People’s Cultural Volunteering programme across Kirklees.  

The programme will galvanise talent and leadership across this consortium to offer a range of volunteering opportunities, ahead of the much-anticipated Kirklees Year of Music 2023 (KYOM23).

KYOM23, will be a multi-organisational led series of music-based events and activities that aim to make music more accessible and inclusive. It will make music an integral part of education, health & wellbeing, the night-time economy, and tourism. The year also aims to use music to help tackle poverty, reduce inequalities and inequity, and to develop an inclusive economy.  

This funding – which will be used by KYOM23 and Lawrence Batley Theatre to create opportunities for 200 new volunteers to be recruited and trained for the Year of Music and the wider cultural sector – will provide young people with new volunteering opportunities who have missed out due to the pandemic.

William Galinsky, artistic programmer at Kirklees Year of Music 2023 addresses a ‘pollinator’ event at Dewsbury Town Hall

The programme aims to build a diverse volunteer force. They are particularly keen to develop volunteer opportunities for young people who live in deprived areas, as well as those isolated by disability, health issues and mental ill-health. They will also be looking to recruit asylum seekers, refugees, and young people from migrant backgrounds. Young people from the LGBTQ+ community and young carers are we also be encouraged to take part. 

Darren Henley, CEO of Arts Council England, said: “There’s an abundance of evidence to show that volunteering can be a key factor in helping people lead happier lives. 

“This new investment will enrich villages, towns and cities across England, increasing health and well-being and decreasing loneliness and isolation.” 

Henry Filloux-Bennett, chief executive and artistic director of Lawrence Batley Theatre, said: “As the lead organisation for this grant and on behalf of the partners involved, we are so grateful for the support of Arts Council England for our Youth Cultural Volunteering programme.

“This project will rejuvenate opportunities for young residents, some of them have been hardest hit over the last few years in terms of confidence and career development.”

Colin Parr, strategic director, environment and climate change, said: “The Year of Music 2023 is an exciting initiative for the whole district, and volunteering is an integral part to the work, as it roots it in the places and communities of Kirklees.

“We look forward to working with partners to realise the ambition and to place children and young people at the heart of the programme.”

Find out more about Kirklees Year of Music here: