A group of performers dancing vigorously as part of a performance of When in Breaks it Burns. There is a woman in the foreground with red dungarees on who is mid-spin. The audience are watching from the floor around the space.
27 April, 2023


When It Breaks It Burns, coletiva ocupação, Transform 19 Image - JMA Photography



Over the last few years at Transform we have been thinking about the future of international festivals, who creates them, participates, and leads them. Festivals are by their nature transitory and temporary. Transform festival is known as a flurry of international performance and events that explodes into the cultural scene and then fleetingly passes. However, many of our projects leave lasting impressions long after the festival has culminated.

Back in 2017, Transform was grappling with the ways in which the festival could have a deep and lasting impact for those in the region. Being a festival that explores new forms and ideas, it felt urgent that the next generation were involved in that conversation. We want to ensure that the voices and experiences of young people are supported by Transform and reflected in our festival programmes. We also want to make sure that Transform is a useful platform for the next generation to explore their creativity and world view points – and this has to start by supporting young people.

Across our last few festivals, we have continued to explore how young people’s creativity and leadership is reflected in our programme and embedded in our year-round work. As an international festival, we want to support those in the Leeds City Region to gain a deeper understanding of their place in the world and to discover their agency in an (inter)national context.

Back in 2019, we realised Future Radicals, supporting a collective of 25 young people aged 16-21 to exchange with extraordinary artists before taking over the festival with their own programme of events. The group also spent time with coletivA ocupaçao –  a collective of Brazilian artists and activists who occupied their high schools in protest against education cuts and created stand-out show When It Breaks It Burns to chart their experiences. Then, ahead of our last edition Transform 21-22 we established a group of Young Curators. The aim of this was to move beyond young people simply being creatively involved in our festival – to actively making key decisions about the festival content and experience. Off the back of this programme, 5 young curators invited artist Ásrún Magnúsdóttir and young people from Iceland to visit Leeds and explore ideas for a future project. Subsequently, the same group of curators travelled to Mladi Levi festival in Slovenia to research shows for our next festival, selecting a production for the next edition. Essentially the invitation to young people is to respond to Leeds and its communities by selecting, shaping and realising ambitious creative projects with participation at their heart. Through this process, participants develop their skills in everything from programming, producing and community engagement – developing as cultural leaders and change-makers.

As we look ahead to our next festival Transform 23 in October 23, we are excited to offer our most ambitious range of opportunities for young creatives in Leeds yet. Commissioned by our Young Curators, we are creating a major participatory production called SECRETS with Ásrún Magnúsdóttir and young people in Leeds and Iceland. We are now looking for contributions and performers to be part of the next stage of that creative project. At the same time, we are recruiting for a new cohort of curators to shape events within the next festival.

We are reaching out to allies and advocates across the Leeds City Region to spread the word and make sure that a wider group of young people know about these opportunities, ensuring that Transform 23 international festival this October continues to be shaped and created with young people from across the region and supporting a new generation of artists and festival leaders.

You will find more info on current opportunities below, so do get in touch to find out more and do spread the word to those that want to take part. We’re also starting conversations around the next steps for this work, looking specifically at how this incredible and growing collective of young creatives and leaders supported by Transform can further impact what culture in the Leeds City Region looks and feels like.  If that sounds like something you want to be part of – let’s chat.

Amy Letman, Creative Director – Transform


YOUNG CURATORS – We are recruiting 5 Young Curators to be part of Transform 23. This is a paid opportunity for 16-21’s who are excited about new ideas and creative projects (be that live performance, club culture, community events, or anything in between). Those involved will learn from the Transform team and create a series of events within the festival. Find out more.

PERFORMERS – Together with young people, we have commissioned a major new performance called SECRETS by artist Ásrún Magnúsdóttir. As we start this creative project, we are looking for performers, musicians, DJ’s and more who are aged 16-19, to be part of a 4-day workshop generating music and performance, based on real life secrets from young people in Leeds and Iceland. Find out more.

SECRETS CALL-OUT – We are gathering hundreds of secrets from young people in Leeds and Iceland, to be anonymously performed as part of the SECRETS performance. We want to hear about the things that sometimes don’t get spoken about or seen. We are collating secrets from 16-19’s online via this call out and are also offering a variety of workshops in schools and community centres to generate material for the show. To find out more contact