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East Leeds’s First Dedicated Arts Centre: Chapel FM

A New State-of-the-art community facility in the superbly refurbished Old Seacroft Chapel, York Road, Leeds, LS14 6AE

Heads Together Productions’ longest running project, East Leeds FM(ELFM), begins an exciting new chapter in its development on Thursday 9 October when it throws open the doors to Chapel FM – a unique facility which has been created by re-purposing the old Seacroft Methodist Chapel, which has served the East Leeds community of Seacroft since it was built in 1874.

Chapel FM incorporates two state-of-the-art radio studios which can be operated by anyone aged 8-80yrs and a third, unique, radio-theater with a 70 seat in-the-round auditorium. Many of the Chapel’s original features have been retained and sensitively incorporated in to the new design. East Leeds residents have been deeply involved throughout the restoration process, as evident in the 140 ‘audio signatures’ of ELFM participants and people with a special link to the Chapel which have been etched in to the newly designed glass windows by West Yorkshire-based glass artist Zoé Eady.

Adrian Sinclair, Creative Director, Heads Together Productions says: “We’ve listened hard to residents and our volunteers and taken on board their ideas and suggestions. As a result we have a broad and adventurous programme of performances, broadcasts, films, training and events to support local groups of all ages. Plus we’re enticing artists from across Yorkshire and beyond to this unique venue. There are Next Generation courses for teenagers, a new Have a Go team for aspiring broadcasters of any age and ‘Live at the Chapel’ every Friday night. Wakefield songsters, The Housekeeping Society, will be our first artists-in-residence. And we’re delighted to host the launch of the Yorkshire Dance Youth project (15th October) and welcome back poet John Hegley as part of the Seacroft Literature & Art Festival for his latest show New and Selected Potatoes (24th October). A Halloween special rounds off the opening month with the Carnabells — one of our own Associate Bands who have enjoyed massive success this summer, playing Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds Festivals.”

The young lead singer and guitarist, Luke Thompson of the Carnabells, who started volunteering with ELFM while still at school says: We’ve had fantastic support from the ELFM team over the last three years – from making music videos, to putting on gigs, building a fan base and looking after them and keeping them engaged. The work we’ve done with ELFM played a huge part in us playing Glastonbury and Leeds/Reading Festivals this summer.
So, it’s absolutely brilliant to see their dream new building come to life. Chapel FM has such amazing facilities and offers so many different artists, from story tellers, poets, musicians and budding presenters of all ages, the chance to develop their skills in a really friendly and supportive atmosphere. We just can’t wait to play the new Chapel FM.”
Adrian Sinclair has led on the re-development of the Old Chapel while Heads Together Productions Development Director, Linda Strudwick, has secured a wide range of funding to enable the dream to become a reality from: Jimbo’s Fund, The Scurrah Wainwright Charity, Mills and Reeve Solicitors, Tudor Trust, WREN Community Fund, Monument Trust, Caird Bardon Community Programme, Leeds City Council, Arts Council England, and The Clothworkers' Foundation.
Julie Heselden said of their grant award from Jimbo’s Fund: “We are delighted to have been able to support this project which is providing such great opportunities for children and young people in East Leeds. Jimi was very keen on giving local people opportunities that they might otherwise not have and the Chapel FM project will do just that.” /