Stephanie Upsall set West Yorkshire Theatre Network up just over 2years ago. Not for it to turn into anything big but just so she could get to know more people after moving Up North from London. The more events we held the more she realised there were big gaps up here which needed filling. Since then WYTN has grown very organically to keep up with the needs of the local area. Steph has been running it full time, 7days a week, for over a year now (unpaid) and only recently have we started charging for workshops etc. Until then everything we did was free. We have just released a membership too which should hopefully help to bring some money into WYTN so we can continue to grow.
West Yorkshire Theatre Network are here to connect artists in and around West Yorkshire but it doesn’t stop there. Because of our workshops we have people from all over the country visiting our website and coming up north to participate so we’re not just restricted to the local area. One of our aims is to close the gap between the public and the artists which we’re doing several things to promote this so we’ll be gathering the general public to our website too. We have over 1250 members on facebook, a huge amount of them are very active and have just short of 1000 people on our mailing list too. This is constantly growing. We run monthly events plus larger networking events, have a casting book and promote local artists, events, auditions and opportunities through our website (the new one should be launched in the next week). We've just applied for funding for two very specific projects which involves inter-disciplinary collaboration and offering opportunities to youngsters.
We have a large following and a strong reputation. There are so many things we are working towards, too many to go into really but here are our aims:
1. Offer, share and create opportunities for all people in or interested in the arts.
2. Connect people within the arts from different backgrounds, ethnic groups and ages.
3. Close the gap between creatives and the public.
4. Retain people in West Yorkshire.
5. Enhance the cultural scene in West Yorkshire.
6. Assist in people’s personal development and employability.
7. Provide a package for accessibility to those in full time education, unemployment and on benefits.
John Godber is our Patron with Ken Stratford from East Street Arts and Robert Williamson who founded and runs the British Shakespeare Company are also our trustees and mentors. We have come very far in the last two years and even further to go in the coming months and years.
We run some incredible workshops to promote learning and skills sharing. Ian Brown from West Yorkshire Playhouse is running one later this month, Tim Pigott-Smith ran the January one, we had Scott Williams from America last month running a workshop on the Meisner Technique and much much more. There is a desperate need for people Up North to learn and not have to travel to London to do so.
We are trying to build reciprocal relationships with other organisations and individuals who have similar aims and can do attitudes to us and we hope there is a way we can work together in the future.