Here’s your invitation to a fascinating week of creative conversations in November

The Achates Philanthropy Foundation contributes to the vibrancy of the cultural ecosystem through its sponsorship of initiatives and events, including the annual Achates Philanthropy Foundation Prize.

In November, Achates presents a free nightly symposium over five days from November 15th which looks well worth catching, especially as it is a free event, although registration is required. Take a look at the details of the sessions below.

The 2021 Achates Philanthropy Foundation Symposium

Join them for a series of nightly conversations with creatives and thought leaders challenging the cultural sector to think differently.

Across the week, they will ask UK and international guest speakers to reflect on urgent issues – from the cultural implications of addressing climate change, to the myth of social mobility in the creative industries. These events will explore our renewed understanding of the role of art in society and offer a space for discussion about the nature of change and how it can come about.

This artist-led programme of events is curated by the writer and theatre director, Javaad Alipoor (The Believers Are But Brothers, Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran).

Bringing together leaders from across the arts, these provocative discussions are for anyone who wants to be part of bringing about real change.

All events are free and online, but booking is required.

All events will be captioned by

Book here (or below) for your place at any of their five free events:

Climate Economics – Monday 15 November, 7pm
The Social Mobility Myth – Tuesday 16 November, 7pm
All that’s been revealed… – Wednesday 17 November,  7PM
The Hidden Artist – Thursday 18 November, 7pm
The Lives of Artists – Friday 19 November, 7pm

Climate Economics – Monday 15 November, 7pm

Book your ticket here 

As the Global North finally wakes up to the reality of climate change, it is now seeking to alter the way in which art is curated and consumed worldwide, through initiatives such as reducing international travel and promoting digital engagement. But this sets a challenge for artists in the Global South many of whom seek opportunities in the Global North to raise the perceived and economic value of their work. Where do climate and social justice meet in the arts?

Chair: Imran Khan is a scientist, writer and grantmaker.


Shoshana Polanco is a creative producer. Based in Buenos Aires, her area of expertise is international collaboration with a focus in Latin America.
Fehinti Balogun is an actor and writer. He conceived, wrote and performed in Can I Live?, a brand new digital performance about the climate catastrophe from Complicité. TV and film credits include I May Destroy You and Dune.
Róise Goan is the Artistic Director of Artsadmin.

The Social Mobility Myth – Tuesday 16 November, 7pm

Book your ticket here

The arts have been one of the vehicles by which the myth of social mobility has been promoted, yet the cultural ecosystem remains a mirror of society with roles largely dictated by socio-economic background. Can the arts become a beacon of change?

Chair: Syima Aslam is the founder and Director of the Bradford Literature Festival.


Dr Dave O’Brien is Chancellor’s Fellow in Cultural and Creative Industries based in The University of Edinburgh’s School of History of Art, and co-author of the book, Culture is bad for you: inequality in the cultural and creative industries.
Dr Mariam Rezaei is an award winning composer, turntablist and performer. She is Artistic Director of TOPH, a producing mixed arts space in Newcastle.
Abdul Shayek is Artistic Director and joint CEO of Tara Theatre.

Keynote Lecture: All that’s been revealed… – Wednesday 17 November,  7pm

Book your ticket here

The pandemic represents a period in which our world views have undergone seismic shifts with social and environmental justice movements finding renewed momentum. However, as the old methodologies of liberalism have failed to achieve these goals, both left and right have moved to more strident and authoritarian positions which form the basis of the so-called ‘ culture wars’.

As curator and guest artist for the inaugural Achates Philanthropy Foundation Symposium, Javaad Alipoor will give the Keynote Lecture, All that’s been revealed…, exploring the role of art in achieving justice with understanding.

Chair: Claire Armitstead is associate editor, culture, for the Guardian. She presents the weekly Guardian books podcast and is a regular commentator on radio, and at live events across the UK and internationally.

Keynote speaker: Javaad Alipoor is a British-Iranian, Manchester-based and Bradford-built artist, writer and founding Artistic Director of The Javaad Alipoor Company. The Javaad Alipoor Company takes stories beyond the stage through powerful multi-platform creations that explore the intersection of politics and technology in the contemporary world. Javaad was Resident Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres (2017-18), Associate Director at Bradford’s Theatre in the Mill (2015-2017) and is an alumni of Arts Council England’s Change Makers programme. Javaad’s plays include The Believers Are But Brothers, Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran (both published by Oberon) and Made of Mannheim, and his writing on international politics, cultural policy and art has been featured in The Guardian, The Independent and The Stage.


The Hidden Artist – Thursday 18 November, 7pm

Book your ticket here

Whilst the arts have become much better at articulating the case for the economic and social value of art, as well as its benefits for wellbeing, the space for talking about art itself and its intrinsic value seems to have shrunk.  How can we move beyond a zero-sum approach to these ideas?

Chair: Javaad Alipoor is a British-Iranian, Manchester-based and Bradford-built artist, writer and founding Artistic Director of The Javaad Alipoor Company.


Andrew Barnett OBE is Director of the UK Branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a writer, editor, socio-cultural commentator, broadcaster and recipient of Ghana’s national ACRAG award for poetry and literary advocacy.
Henna Zamurd-Butt is a London based researcher, inclusion practitioner and event producer.

The Lives of Artists – Friday 19 November, 7pm

Book your ticket here

The pandemic has brutally revealed how we undervalue freelancers and, in particular, those working in front of house and technical roles. How do we create an arts infrastructure in which artists aren’t valued at the expense of their co-creators at a time when it has become clear that the mixed economy we have relied on for so many years is now failing?

Chair: Javaad Alipoor is a British-Iranian, Manchester-based and Bradford-built artist, writer and founding Artistic Director of The Javaad Alipoor Company.


Andrew Glassford is a Manchester-based freelance theatre technician and production manager who set up a project to make homes more eco-friendly after losing his job in the arts industry during the pandemic.
Darren Pritchard is a performer, choreographer, teacher, producer and director. He’s a celebrated Vogue performer and the Mother of the House of Ghetto in Manchester.
Kully Thiarai is Creative Director and CEO of Leeds 2023, and the former Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre Wales.

All that’s been revealed…in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre, Beatfreeks, The National Centre for Writing, The People’s Orchestra, Theatre503, Union Chapel, Manchester International Festival, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

All events in the Achates Philanthropy Foundation Symposium are available free of charge online both live and on-demand post-Symposium.

Watch Now: New Cultural Conversation focuses on culture’s economic impact

The final discussion in this season hosted by The Lord Mayor of the City of London and the Genesis Foundation is the sixth Cultural Conversation, focusing on the economic value of culture and the arts and it power to aid our ailing economy. The New Future: Art and Culture in the Making of a Vibrant Economy took place online on Monday 20 September, with a live and virtual audience contributing to the Q&A section at the end of the discussion. And what a praiseworthy and interesting talk it was, with great audience interaction in the Q&A too.

The Cultural Conversations series has been a sequence of focused debates around Arts and Culture in the City of London, and are always worth watching. This sixth conversation was chaired by Will Gompertz, in conversation with Alderman William Russell, John Studzinski CBE, our Founder and Chairman, Kully Thiarai, Creative Director, Leeds 2023, Claire McColgan MBE, Director of Culture, Liverpool City Council and Nina Skero, Chief Executive, Centre for Economic and Business Research.

A further series of Cultural Conversations is scheduled for next year.

You can watch the recorded discussion here

Heritage Open Day’s top 25 theatre events – What will you discover?

From 10 – 19 September across the country you can access and learn about a huge number of buildings you can’t often get in to.

The popular annual Heritage Open Days event embraces a very wide mix of events and activities, and this year it returns with a mix of in-person and online activities to enjoy wherever you are in the country.

Here’s my Top 25 events that will be most of interest to theatre-lovers. See what’s near you-or online!

IN-PERSON The Stables Theatre Building Tour
The Stables Theatre, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK17 8LU Tour and behind the scenes look at the building that is one of the UK’s most successful music venues, led by the original architect. Details here

IN-PERSON People’s Museum
Hippodrome Bingo, 27 Railway Street, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, DL14 7LR Memorabilia of Bishop Auckland on display at the Old Hippodrome Theatre. Details here

IN-PERSON AND ONLINE Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ Visits
North East Theatre Organ Association, New Victoria Centre, High Street, Howden Le Wear, Crook, County Durham, DL15 8EZ Find out the amazing story of the only remaining Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ in the North East (& one of the largest in Europe) – and hear it in action (online option via information on the page with details). Details here

IN-PERSON Exeter’s Northcott Theatre – opening the archive
Northcott Theatre, Stocker Road, Exeter, Devon, EX4 4QB For the first time, the Exeter Northcott Theatre will be sharing items from its archive and launching a fantastic new mural. Details here

IN-PERSON The Rescue of the National Picture Theatre -Speaker Hilary Byers
Stepney Station, Beverley Road, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU3 1TY The National Civilian WW2 Memorial Trust has for over 20 years been working towards saving the remains of the National Picture Theatre on Beverley Road in Hull. Hear about the history and recent strides forward. Details here

IN-PERSON Royal Hippodrome Theatre Tours
Royal Hippodrome Theatre, 108-112 Seaside Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 3PF The Hippodrome Theatre opened in 1883. Catch a behind-the-scenes look at the stage and backstage areas through guided 30 minute tours and take a look inside the Victorian auditorium! Details here

IN-PERSON Mercury Theatre Tours
Balkerne Gate, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1PT Colchester’s Mercury Theatre has recently undergone a major redevelopment. Be amongst the first to see inside -and backstage! Details here

ONLINE Wivenhoe and the Theatre
Wivenhoe, Essex. A film looking at the homes of two of Wivenhoe’s most famous residents: Sir John Martin-Harvey, a successful actor and theatre manager, and Joan Hickson OBE, best known for her portrayal of Miss Marple. Link available from Sept 10th. Details here

IN-PERSON Cheltenham Playhouse Tours
Playhouse Theatre, 47-53 Bath Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 7HG Guided tours around the ground floor of the grade-II listed building including scenery workshop and stage, while learning about its pre-theatre past as salt works, slipper baths and swimming pool – which you will descend into! Details here

IN-PERSON Stockport Plaza Super Cinema and Variety Theatre Open Day
Plaza Theatre, Mersey Square, Stockport, Greater Manchester, SK1 1SP The beautifully restored 1932 Stockport Plaza throws open her doors at 11.00am for a full day of FREE to attend events, including performances of the mighty Compton Theatre Organ. Details here

IN-PERSON Watford Palace Theatre
20 Clarendon Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 1JZ As part of Heritage Open Days, we will be opening up our home to you for a day of fun, facts and fabulousness. Details here

IN-PERSON Playhouse Theatre Whitstable Tours
Playhouse Theatre, 104 High Street, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 1AZ This is an opportunity to see how a theatre operates. Tours of all backstage areas are on offer as well as demonstrations covering the many aspects of how we put on a show. Details here

IN-PERSON AND ONLINE Lancaster Grand Theatre Heritage Weekend
Lancaster Grand Theatre, St Leonardgate, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 1NL Offering a Tour of the Grade II listed, 237 year old theatre. If you can’t attend in person – there is a virtual tour of the public areas of the theatre on their website. Link available from Sept 10th. Details here

IN-PERSON AND ONLINE Pavilion Theatre Gorleston – Backstage Tours
Pavilion Theatre, Pier Gardens, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR31 6PP The Pavilion Theatre in Gorleston celebrates its 120th birthday this year and to celebrate we’ll be running informative tours of the building including to areas that are usually closed to the public, including backstage! As part of their commitment to making the tour accessible to all, they’ll be live-streaming at least one of our tours for people to access online. Details here

IN-PERSON Tours of De Grey Rooms and York Theatre Royal
Entrance to De Grey Rooms, St. Leonards Place, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 7HD Learn about York Conservation Trust and take a guided tour of the De Grey Rooms and York Theatre Royal. Details here

IN-PERSON Tours of The Old Savoy – The home of The Deco Theatre
Abington Square, Next to The Press Restaurant, Northampton, Northamptonshire, NN1 4AE The Deco Theatre, Northampton’s hidden gem, is host to a wide variety of shows, the Christmas pantomime, and many training events. Explore its spaces and history on a guided tour. Details here

IN-PERSON Palace Theatre Centre Stage
Palace Theatre, Appleton Gate, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1JY Visit the pop-up exhibition about Newark Palace Theatre’s first 100 years. Details here

IN-PERSON Tours of The Majestic Theatre, Retford
Retford Theatre Trust, Majestic Theatre, Coronation Street, Retford, Nottinghamshire, DN22 6DX Part of Retford Heritage Open Day 2021. The Majestic Theatre will be open for free guided tours between 10am and 2pm, of both front of house and backstage. Details here

ONLINE Virtual Tours of Blakehay Theatre
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, BS23 1JZ Virtual Tour of Weston-Super-Mare’s Blakehay Theatre, a 207- seater converted from an early Victorian Baptist church in the 1980s. With this online tour, you will be guided around the Front of House, Auditorium, the Upper Studios and also the backstage areas including one of the Juliet balconies and two Dressing Rooms. Links available from Sept 10th. Details here

IN-PERSON A Brief History of Professional Theatre in Sheffield
Lyceum Theatre , Tudor Square, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 2LA A linear walk round the city centre, visiting sites of the surviving and former theatres and concert halls of Sheffield. Details here

IN-PERSON Marina Theatre Lowestoft Tours
Marina Theatre, The Marina, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32 1HH Take one of our guided heritage tours and learn more about the Marina Theatre’s history. Details here

IN-PERSON Tyne Theatre & Opera House Tours
Tyne Theatre & Opera House, 109-119 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE1 4AG Narrated guided tour of the Grade I listed Victorian Theatre which was built in 1867. The Theatre houses a fully restored stage machinery, a rarity in the UK. Tours last approximately 60-70 mins. Details here

IN-PERSON Sunderland Empire Theatre Tour
Sunderland Empire, 4-5 High Street West, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR1 3EX Join the Creative Learning Team at Sunderland Empire Theatre for a free tour inside the Edwardian theatre building, exploring its architecture and rich history. Details here

IN-PERSON Tours at the Lawrence Batley Theatre
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Queen Street, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD1 2SP Join us for a special backstage tour, taking in the stories of our historic building and a look behind-the-scenes, guided by one of our expert team. Be the first to see our redeveloped spaces following our A Theatre For Tomorrow campaign this summer. Details here

IN-PERSON Yvonne Arnaud Theatre events
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Millbrook, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3UX A rare opportunity to see behind the scenes at this grade II listed venue. Celebrate theatre food and snacks through the ages with our fun and family friendly activities. Details here

Watch Now: Cultural Conversations focuses on the next generations

You can now watch the recording of this fascinating and insigthful discussion.

The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of the City of London and the Genesis Foundation invited us to join them for the fifth in the series of Cultural Conversations: ‘Young People and The Arts: Making Space and Opening Doors’ which took place online on Monday 26th July.

The Cultural Conversations series is a sequence of focused debates around Arts and Culture in the City of London. This fifth Conversation was chaired by Gemma Cairney, in conversation with Cherry Eckel, Artist and Advisory Group member at Boundless Theatre; Neil Griffiths, Chief Executive at Arts Emergency; Montana Hall, Founder of Run the Check and Trustee at The Photographers Gallery; Renee Odjidja, Curator: Youth Programmes at Whitechapel Gallery; and Abdul Shayek, Artistic Director at Tara Theatre, and Lemn Sissay OBE, Poet, Playwright and Broadcaster.

Please click here to watch the recorded discussion

UK theatres save the NHS over £100million every year!

During Creativity and Wellbeing Week* last week, UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) released useful and surprising statistics showing that theatres generate an annual cost saving to the NHS of £102,234,585, by helping benefit the physical and mental health of those in their surrounding communities.

What more significant way could there be to highlight the importance of theatre and the arts in improving physical and mental wellbeing – something that is being increasingly recognised worldwide, including by the World Health Organisation and the UK Department of Health & Social Care.

Further evidence comes from an ongoing audience survey by The Old Vic, in which 93% of respondents so far have agreed -or strongly agreed- that theatre benefits their mental health and wellbeing.

Although theatre spaces have been closed throughout the pandemic, they have remained essential community hubs, providing online educational resources, interactive family events, digital productions, creative workshops and even programmes to help rehabilitate Covid sufferers – alongside the countless venues offering space, supplies and skilled volunteers to help the NHS. Further, the creative minds at work in these organisations have undergone numerous reinventions of their organisations to stay relevant and useful to their local communities- yet another example of the huge benefits of creativity to find solutions to community issues- whether practical or emotional.

Now, as lockdown eases and theatres begin the long road back, welcoming back in-person, socially distanced audiences, substantial evidence of the enormous power of theatre to enrich people’s lives physically and mentally – as well as culturally – will be a vital tool to help the government to understand that the UK’s world-leading theatre sector must be given the support it needs to survive.

The report says: “UK Theatre and SOLT calculated the figure using a 2015 report by DCMS and Simetrica, which quantifies the health benefits enjoyed by people attending a cultural or sporting activity. The report found that the NHS saves a yearly total of £11.91 for every person partaking in such an activity, from a reduction in GP visits and use of psychotherapy services.

This data was combined with UK Theatre and SOLT’s 2018 audience attendance figures (collected from nearly 300 venues nationwide), which show that over 34m people attended the theatre that year. Taking into account repeat attendance and attendance of other cultural or sporting events – and applying the DCMS and Simetrica benchmarking – the figure of £102,234,585 was reached.

This is a method previously used on a smaller scale by the leaders of HOME in Manchester, who last year calculated the theatre’s £26m economic impact on its local city from 2019 to 2020, including a £1m saving to NHS services.

Jon Gilchrist, Executive Director of HOME, said:

‘These findings show the difference the arts can make when working with their communities to support people’s health and wellbeing – highlighted by our own 2019/20 economic impact assessment, which measured the role of HOME in reducing GP visits and the use of mental health services to the effect of an incredible £1m cost saving to the NHS. Across the industry, the potential impact of this is huge, especially when theatres and cultural organisations forge partnerships to provide a range of opportunities to engage with arts and culture.’

Victoria Hume, Executive Director of the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance, said:

‘We know from a significant and growing body of international research that the arts, creativity and culture are critically important to sustaining our health, to tackling major social problems like loneliness and isolation, and to building our communities.

‘This startling statistic is yet another important piece in the puzzle, and drives home the message that we cannot dismiss the arts and culture as nice-to-haves. We know that our resilience is dramatically impacted by our ability to access our creativity and build the culture that surrounds us. This has kept many of us going through lockdown, although research also shows inequalities in cultural participation have been reinforced by Covid.

‘It will be essential to our safe recovery as a country that we invest to ensure greater equity and support the kind of forward-looking, partnership-based work this report describes.’ “

*Creativity & Wellbeing Week is an annual festival led by London Arts and Health and the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance and featuring cultural organisations and freelancers all around the UK, to celebrate the impact creativity has on our health and wellbeing.