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National award for Leeds Playhouse Festival of theatre, dementia and hope

A pioneering festival of theatre, dementia and hope ‘Every Third Minute’, which was directed by a Leeds Beckett PhD Student, has won a National Dementia Care Award.


Leeds Playhouse’s festival was awarded the ‘Outstanding Arts and Creativity in Dementia Care’.    

The awards, which took place at the UK Dementia Congress in Brighton, highlight the excellence, innovation and best practice taking place throughout the UK for people living with dementia. The Playhouse’s ambitious and innovative festival, held in the theatre and across the city earlier this year, was the very first theatre festival of its kind curated by people living with dementia and their supporters.  

The seven week festival, attended by over 7,500 people, was made up of 11 productions including 3 new plays co-written by people living with dementia, 4 training programmes,16 workshops and a tour of care homes. 

Leeds Beckett PhD Student and Every Third Minute Festival Director Nicky Taylor said “We are absolutely over the moon to be recognised by the National Dementia Care Awards. The festival showed that by meaningfully involving people with dementia as equals in creative decision-making it is possible to change the stories we tell about dementia. I want to say a huge thanks and well done to the curators who gave their time, energy and creativity so generously, making the festival such a success. Every Third Minute is part of a long-standing commitment to this area of work and receiving this award will make us even more ambitious in our ongoing determination to use theatre and creativity to enhance the lives of people affected by dementia.”

Every Third Minute Curators Eugene Harris and Diana Smith-Harris said: “Winning this award is fantastic - it’s the icing on the cake that others are recognising what we’re doing is ground-breaking. So many people were rooting for us which meant a huge amount. We’ve got a real buzz from being involved in this festival. It is one of the best things we’ve ever done and we feel honoured to be part of something so life-changing.”          

Leeds Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: "This is brilliant news and a well-deserved recognition for the amazing work of the curators, staff and companies who created the festival. I am thrilled that this pioneering programme of work, for and by people living with dementia, continues to be recognised as hugely impactful on people’s lives, informing the best new practice within the industry.”          

This is the second accolade awarded to the Playhouse by the National Dementia Care Awards. In 2015 the theatre came top in the ‘Outstanding Dementia Care Innovation’ category, which recognised the introduction of Dementia Friendly performances. Following the Playhouse’s model, Dementia Friendly performances are now standard practice in a number of theatres across the UK. The Playhouse’s commitment to people living with dementia has also been acknowledged with a national award from the Alzheimer’s Society.   

 Every Third Minute was funded through a Celebrating Age grant from Arts Council England and The Baring Foundation and was supported by Leeds City Council, The Liz & Terry Bramall Foundation, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, Skipton Building Society, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, NHS National Institute for Health Research and Join Dementia Research.


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