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Theatre Nation Partnerships

Our national network with local impacts


Theatre Nation Partnerships is a collaborative network of arts organisations aiming to strengthen their relationships with local audiences, schools and communities.

Convened by the National Theatre, the network is made up of theatres and creative organisations in 13 priority areas of England. By working together, we create more opportunities for people to engage with theatre and are on track to reach 500,000 targeted audiences, young people and community members between 2022 to 2025.

Many of the activities that will take place in these areas as part of the partnership are flagship National Theatre programmes, such as Public Acts and Speak Up.

A map of England, Wales and Scotland with 13 points highlighted: Sunderland, Wakefield, Doncaster, Leicester, Peterborough, Outer East London & South Essex, North Devon, Trowbridge, Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Greater Manchester.

Our partners


with Cast

Greater Manchester

Salford, Rochdale, Wigan with The Lowry


with Curve

North Devon

with Landmark Theatres, The Queen’s Theatre Barnstaple & The Landmark

Outer East London and South Essex

with Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch


with Landmark Theatres, Peterborough New Theatre & Key Theatre


with Restoke and Regent Theatre & Victoria Hall


with Trowbridge Town Hall


with Theatre Royal Wakefield


with Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

What we are doing

One man holding another gently on the back of the neck with the word Powders lit up in neon above them

Midscale touring

My Beautiful Launderette by Hanif Kureishi, with music by The Pet Shop Boys, will be produced by Curve and tour to four Theatre Nation Partners in 2024.

Three people looking at laptops during a workshop.

Research & innovation

Theatre Nation Partners will research and evaluate our activity and share what we learn with the wider sector. Our current research is focused on building and sustaining drama audiences.

The story so far

We created the Theatre Nation Partnerships network in 2017, with partners in six initial areas – Doncaster, Greater Manchester, Hornchurch, Sunderland, Wakefield and Wolverhampton.

Between 2017-2022, the first phase of the programme exceeded its target of reaching 200,000 people from under-engaged areas and demographics, working with 215,987 audiences, participants, and artists.

100% of partners said that the programme enabled them to share expertise and ideas and 96% feel that they have developed their skills.

National Theatre plays have toured to multiple partner venues, including War Horse, Macbeth, A Taste of Honey, Hedda Gabler, LOVE, and Home, I’m Darling.

Specially adapted tours of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Jekyll & Hyde visited schools in all six partner regions, allowing our partner theatres to forge strong relationships with high priority local schools. A specially adapted version of Macbeth also toured to secondary schools in Doncaster, Sunderland and Wakefield.

Our Public Acts community and theatre project worked in-depth with community organisations in Outer East London and South Essex (with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch) and Doncaster (with Cast) on a wide range of creative projects.

In summer 2022, we were delighted to receive a second round of support for Theatre Nation Partnerships from Arts Council England, so that we could expand the network and run an ambitious new phase of activity. The National Theatre is tripling the investment made by Arts Council England, and 90% of our total budget for the programme is being spent on activity with our partners in partnership areas.

Between 2022-2023, the network has achieved:

  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane toured to five Theatre Nation Partners, with wrap-around activity widening access for local audiences.
  • Sucker Punch produced by Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch toured to nine Theatre Nation Partners.
  • Our creative school programme Speak Up launched in 55 schools across the partnership.
  • Shut Up, I’m Dreaming devised by The Pappyshow toured to 50 schools across the partnership.
  • Six Theatre Nation Partners worked in depth with their local communities to stage the multi-venue epic The Odyssey.

Our funders

Theatre Nation Partnerships is generously supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.

Find out more about supporting our work

The National Partnerships team

Kiri Grant
Head of National Partnerships

Oliver Branton
Project Producer

Ellie Hart
Project Manager, Speak Up

Claude Graham
Administration Manager, Theatre Nation Partnerships


Eirinn Kilvington
Touring Coordinator

Niamh Parker-Whitehead
Administrator, Speak Up

Liam Smith
Coordinator, Speak Up

If you wish to get in touch with the National Partnerships team, please email

Photo © Brinkhoff Moegenburg
The Odyssey Episode 5: The Underworld, Olivier Theatre 2023