Nurturing. Empowering. Supporting.


The Dukes is a unique cultural centre for Lancashire. Our mission is to create and present great art which changes people’s lives for the better.

We aim to be an excellent creative producer: stimulating, developing, producing and inspiring work inside and beyond our buildings. We aim to have a company, an artistic programme and an audience that reflects the diversity of the society we live in.

Our artist development programme is at the heart of this mission. We aim to support artists of all experiences and backgrounds through each stage of their career, give them space and resources to be creative, and empower them to create exciting work for our stages.

BASE (Bespoke Artistic Support and Exchange)
Workshops, events and discussions for artists looking to learn new creative skills.

BASE Masterclasses 
Workshops delivered by professional artists exploring a variety of artistic mediums.

BASE Nuts n Bolts
Giving artists the tools to be happy and successful freelance artists.

BASE Social
Opportunities for artists to network, make contacts and enjoy the local area.

BASE Mailing List
Signposting artists to opportunities and events at The Dukes and around the local area.

To join the BASE mailing list or for more information please contact


Kickstart Residencies

Open Space Lisa Simpson and BAME dancer


Giving artists the Kickstart they need to make exciting new work.

Kickstart Responds
Responding to styles, questions, themes and contemporary topics to make new performance. Usually paid or at least with travel expenses attached, plus technical support.

Kickstart Open Space
A summer opportunity for artists and theatre companies to take advantage of The Dukes spaces, meet the creative team, ask advice and network with other artists. No financial or technical support available, however if useful our in-kind support can be costed to provide support for other funding applications.

Kickstart Residencies
Bespoke residencies for artists and theatre companies throughout the year. Dukes residencies are tailored to each individual artist and run at various times and in various spaces throughout the year.

If you’re looking for space to work on a project please contact

We especially encourage residencies from those currently under represented in UK Theatre.





Associate Artists & Companies

The Dukes currently has three Associate Companies, whom we work closely with to support, and Five Associate Artists

Associate Companies and Associate Artists are chosen by our Artistic Director Sarah Punshon, in consultation with the rest of the team. Appointment of associates is a result of a long standing relationship between the artists and the theatre, often due to geographical closeness and repeated working relationships. There is no fixed time-period, as these relationships are organic: artists come and go as the time is right.

Associate Companies are usually emerging artists who benefit from bespoke support, including rehearsal space or technical support in-kind, advice and mentoring from the Artistic, Technical, Marketing and Creative Learning teams.

Associate Artists are more experienced practitioners, who work or have worked with us fairly often, and are able to offer us unique angles on our programme of activity.

We’re proud to be associated with all these artists and companies, and benefit hugely from our engagement with their work.

Previous Associate Artists of The Dukes include directors such as Louie Ingham (now Associate Director at Northern Stage) and Amy Leach (now Associate Director at the West Yorkshire Playhouse), and award-winning writers Kevin Dyer, Debbie Oates and Bryan Elsley (creator of Skins).

Associate Artists

Helen Gould


Helen Gould is a dance artist, choreographer and co-director of LPM Dance Theatre. Her performance career has spanned the commercial and contemporary dance sector in the UK and Europe in contexts ranging from musical theatre to film, contemporary dance to casino productions. Her choreography work has toured with productions regionally and nationally.

Helen has a passion for developing performance and participatory work for people new to dance, especially in the field of inclusive practice and dance for health. She is regional artist for English National Ballet for whom she delivers their Dance for Parkinson’s programme and works as development manager for Lisa Simpson Inclusive Dance.

Helen is one of the lead artists delivering on The Dukes Theatre ‘Still Me’ project for people with Dementia and their carers. She works with Playmakers, the Dukes youngest theatre group for young people in years 3-years 6. The young company are currently developing 2 new performance pieces for April.


Lee Affen


Lee is a multi-instrumentalist composer, music producer and sound designer from Manchester, now based in Sheffield. His passion for music has led him to work in bands, write for singers and compose for theatre, film and dance.

Lee’s recent work includes composition and sound design for the Cardboard Citizens show ‘Who Are Yer?’, Aboutime’s touring dance show ‘Cotton’ and Hawkdance and Briggsy Produces co- production ‘HandsOn’. He’s also composed new and original live scores for silent films Metropolis, Nosferatu and The Passion of Joan of Arc.

2018 sees Lee working on The Bare Project’s touring theatre piece ‘Outskirts’ and Fallen Angels dance piece ‘Dark Night Ends’.  Alongside this Lee is working with The Dukes Theatre on ‘Still Me’, an exciting creative project for people living with dementia.



Tajinder Hayer

thumbnail_Taj pic


Tajinder Singh Hayer is a scriptwriter for radio (BBC Radio 3, 4 and the Asian Network), TV (CBeebies) and theatre (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Freedom Studios, Menagerie, Ragged Edge Production and Look Left, Look Right). He’s been writer on attachment with the West Yorkshire Playhouse, BBC Radio Drama Manchester and the National Theatre Studio. He is also a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. In the latter role, he teaches students at The Dukes’ Centre for Creative Learning as part of the Writing for the Stage undergraduate module; a module that sees student work developed and showcased in partnership with the theatre.




Lisa Simpson


Lisa is a Liverpool based choreographer/workshop leader. Lisa has quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy and no verbal communication; therefore she choreographs using the Simpson Board, an inexpensive but priceless tool that enables disabled people to choreograph their own work.

Lisa now delivers workshops nationally, widening access for people with disabilities to gain skills in choreography and realise their creative potential.

In the last few years Lisa has been focusing on her own choreographic practice. She is soon to be developing her first work with a company of professional dancers this spring in partnership with LPM and The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster.



Associate Companies

Junction 8

Naveed Choudhry 3


Junction 8 Theatre is a Chorley based company run by Liz & Nick Stevenson. We make theatre that is about and for our local audience. Our work is rooted in a sense of place, exploring our regional identity and heritage. We create accessible, engaging and entertaining theatrical experiences.

Our first production, UNDER THE MARKET ROOF by Becky Prestwich, was performed on Chorley Market in October 2017. The Dukes’ support with the show was invaluable, providing artistic mentorship as well as marketing and technical support-in-kind. We’relooking forward to working with The Dukes on future projects in Lancashire.



The Knotted Project


We, The Knotted Project, are a physical theatre company based in North West England established & directed by two of us, Simon McElligott & Natalie Morrell.

As we graduated East 15 Acting School & entered the professional industry, we were driven to make our own theatre with a unique identity. Since 2013, we have built a fantastic network & gained a strong reputation for delivering original, innovative theatre with a unique style & inimitable sense of humour in the North of England. Collaboration is a huge part of what we do & we are very proud to connect with leading artists & venues in the North West, pushing us to achieve our goals. We are very proud to have been funded by Arts Council England on a number of projects, including International Residencies & UK Tours.

At The Knotted Project, we also pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality creative learning activities. We are extremely passionate about this work & firmly believe in the power of creative education & freedom of expression.



La Petite Mort


LPM was established in 2011 by George Adams and Helen Gould through a shared ambition to create innovative dance experiences in the North West. The company has developed a track record for creating original projects and productions with an emphasis on participation, inclusion, dance research and interdisciplinary practice.

The company provides support with fundraising, project management and mentoring for other small, local project funded dance companies, namely AbouTime, Lisa Simpson Inclusive Dance and TurnAround Dance Theatre. Slightly further afield, George is also Associate Artistic Director of Indepen-dance, Scotland’s only professional integrated dance company.

With the Dukes support, LPM offers a regular, weekly class for local professional dancers along with regular professional development opportunities held at the Centre of Creative Learning.


Venues North

The Dukes is a member of Venues North.

Venues North is a network of venues from across the North of England who are committed to supporting artists to create new work.

Our aim is to work together as venues to support new and emerging artists from the North to get their work more widely seen regionally, nationally and internationally.

Go to ARC Stockton Arts Centre for more information and…

The Routes In guide to getting new work programmed in the North of England

The Edinburgh Festival Guide to showcase new work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival