Project information

Northern Ballet Sapphire Anniversary Project

Northern Ballet is celebrating 45 years of world-class dance and inventive storytelling. As we look to our 50th year, the Sapphire Project will raise funds to secure a sustainable future for the next generation of dancers and dance audiences both in our home county of Yorkshire and across the UK.

December 2015 - December 2016

Charity information: Northern Ballet

Northern Ballet logo
  • Need


    The arts should be accessible to all, yet we recognise that there is a lack of regional dance provision and that some geographical areas have little access to professional performances. To deliver world-class dance in the regions, we also need provide development opportunities for our dancers to retain talent in the UK. We know that there can be barriers to the arts relating to age, ability and socio-economic background, and we aim to change perceptions and engage the ‘hardest to reach’.


    - Our new mid-scale tour to grow audiences and reach towns and cities that rarely have access to professional dance companies

    - Our innovative learning and outreach projects which break down barriers to dance and include our unique dance programme for self-propelling wheelchair users, Ability workshops for adults with learning disabilities and school-based projects

    - Our Choreographic Lab will enable our dancers to work with new choreographers and develop as artists

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To grow our audiences, particularly in areas of least engagement with the arts


    » As we continue our full-scale tour, our new mid-scale tour will broaden our reach across the UK and particularly in the North West and Midlands.
    » Our children's ballets allow us to inspire the next generation of dance audiences. Tortoise and the Hare will tour in 2016.
    » Our 'Try Before You Buy' events engage new audiences by providing a behind the scenes insight into the rehearsal process to drive ticket sales.
    » We will continue to seek new ways of engaging audiences, including live streaming 'Try Before You Buy Events' and the Choreographic Laboratory.

    What success will look like

    Tickets sales in new venues will be accurately tracked to demonstrate development. Audience data, research and venue collaboration will allow us to build a picture of our audiences

    Aim 2

    To provide opportunities for our professional dancers to develop as artists


    » Our Choreographic Laboratory will take place in Summer 2016 and provide the opportunity for our dancers to work with exciting new choreographers.

    What success will look like

    We will be able to recruit and retain talented dancers and track their career progression within the Company.

    Aim 3

    To break down barriers to the arts regardless of age, ability or background


    » Tortoise and the Hare, our 2016 children's ballet, will introduce children to dance and inspire the next generation of dances and dance audiences.
    » We will deliver vital arts provision for people with disabilities, including our In Motion and Ability courses and accessible performances.
    » We will engage schools across the UK, including schools in Leeds’ most deprived areas and many in the 10% most deprived wards in England.

    What success will look like

    We will be able to track increased participation and diversity across our Learning and Outreach activity

  • Impact


    A positive early experience of dance lasts a lifetime. By inspiring the next generation of dancers and dance audiences through our children’s ballets and school-based projects, we can both nurture local talent and secure our audiences of the future. By growing audiences in towns and cities across the UK with least engagement with the arts and by ensuring access to dance regardless of age, ability or background, we will change perceptions about who dance is ‘for’.


    The Sapphire Project utilises our 45th Anniversary to create a lasting legacy. Our Sapphire Gala fundraising event raised £40,000 towards the project. We hope that The Big Give challenge will inspire donors to help us raise a further £60,000 to reach our anniversary goal of £100,000. Failure to utilise the success of this landmark year could put of our world-class artistic work and innovative community arts engagement projects at risk, creating a barrier to accessing dance for many people.


    Donors will receive a bi-annual edition of Inside, our supporter magazine, which will provide updates about the project in the context of our wider work. Donors will also receive a quarterly newsletter via email detailing ongoing and forthcoming activity relating to the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £100,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £20,000 2016 Midscale Touring Performing mid-scale productions in venues across the UK
      £25,000 Jane Eyre Creation of brand new mid-scale narrative ballet for 2016
      £15,000 Accessible Dance Projects Vital arts provision for people with disabilities
      £20,000 Children's Ballets Creating and touring ballets for children
      £20,000 Dancer Development Choreographer and dancer development including the Choreographic Laboratory

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Sapphire Anniversary Fundraisng Gala Event (March 2015) £40,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Northern Ballet is the only professional Ballet Company based in the north of England. Our home at Quarry Hill in Leeds places us at the heart of our city, ensuring that our facilities are easily accessible to Leeds residents and the surrounding communities across Yorkshire, regardless of physical ability or age. As the UK’s widest touring Ballet Company, we perform in towns and cities that rarely have access to professional dance to ensure we engage the ‘the hardest to reach’.


    -Company dancers
    -Audiences across the UK in towns and cities with least engagement with the arts
    -Children and young people – last year, we worked with over 50,000 young people across the UK, many of whom are in areas of least arts engagement
    -Northern Ballet delivers vital arts provision for people with disabilities: enabling all to engage and enjoy dance, whether through providing accessible performances for all audiences or through delivering fully accessible and inclusive dance classes

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    - Named Best Company at the Taglioni European Dance Awards in September 2014
    - 3 times consecutive winners of the Audience Award at the National Dance Awards, the only award voted for by the public
    - Awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award to Children’s Arts at the Action for Children’s Arts Award
    - Widest touring UK ballet company
    - Northern Ballet is a hub for dance in the North of England, with fully accessible world-class studios

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Mark Skipper, DL

    Chief Executive since 1996, and former UK Theatre Manager of the Year. He is a Deputy Lieutenant for West Yorkshire. His expertise will be vital.

    David Nixon, OBE

    Our inspirational Artistic Director since 2001 and two-time Dance Europe Director of the Year. His vision is at the heart of our artistic work.

    Selina McGonagle

    As Director of Learning, Selina brings a wealth of experience in community arts engagement and dance education and leads a highly experienced team.