Lucinda Harvey & Sam Perkins

Making Theatres and Performances Dementia Friendly


A visit to the theatre can be a profound and meaningful experience for people living with dementia. The Theatre Industry has led the way in presenting relaxed performances, challenging social isolation and removing barriers to the things that people ‘stop doing’. West Yorkshire Playhouse shares its experience and commitment to older people and people living with dementia, through creative arts sessions and its recent pioneering dementia-friendly performance.


Lucinda Harvey has worked for SOLT and UK Theatre in many different guides, but currently heads up employment relations. She also has a brief for welcoming disabled people into theatre having run various access projects including the first audio-described performances into West End theatre and throughout the UK and running a three year programme for the Mayor's office into making London theatre accessible under the banner of Access London Theatre. Lucinda's theatre experience is wide - having spent 20 years working in commercial, West End and subsidised theatre production work as well as marketing, audience development and press and PR. Prior to working in theatre, Lucinda worked in a whole range of industries - from dredging to banking; hospitals to agriculture; engineering to recruitment - all very good training for the various people issues that she deals with day-in-day-out!

Sam Perkins is Director of Arts Development at West Yorkshire Playhouse (WYP), and leads a 14-strong team of community and education specialists to engage people of all ages and abilities in theatre and the creative arts and to continue to develop a learning organisation. WYP is a major producing theatre, committed to transforming lives through its work both on and off stage. 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of its flagship Heydays programme for over 55s – a weekly creative arts programme valuing and enabling over 300 older people to reach their creative potential. Since 2010, WYP has developed creative sessions specifically for people with dementia and their families, finding positive outcomes in supporting creative expression, communication and friendships. In early 2014 WYP started the process of imagining and designing what a dementia- friendly adaptation of a main stage production might look like. The result was the first dementia-friendly performance of Irving Berlin’s musical White Christmas, attended by over 400 people. WYP is constantly developing as a dementia-friendly organisation through staff training and a commitment to sharing the stories of older people and people living with dementia. Community Development Manager, Nicky Taylor, leads WYP’s work with older people and people living with dementia. 

More information