A creative catalyst

The Dukes is a catalyst space: a facilitator for artists to create, providing them with the resources, skills and space to develop their work and practice. The Dukes places artists centrally and we ensure our talent development programmes are designed, informed and delivered by artists. 


The annual Lancaster Playwriting Prize is run in partnership by the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University and The Dukes, Lancaster.

Writers based in the North West of England enter anonymously, meaning all scripts are judged on their own merit by impartial readers, with no knowledge of the writer’s background or previous experience.  Furthermore, every entrant receives feedback on their script. The prize is £1,500, mentoring and a rehearsed reading of the work.

The Lancaster Playwriting Prize 2024 winners are Amelia Roles (winner 12-15 year old category) and Lydia Baines (winner 16-18 year old category).

Rehearsed readings and awards will take place on Tuesday 11th June.

Lancaster Playwriting Logo

Open Space

Open space is a free R & D space open to all North West Based artists in our Moor Space*. The space is available - subject to existing scheduled activities Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays: 10 am – 6 pm, Tuesdays & Wednesdays: 10am – 4 pm.

The offer is for space, working light and 13a power only, it does not include technical support.

Any sharing’s of work in progress can be free or Pay What You Decide but need to be invite only.

Please download and complete the Open Space pre-arrival form and send to openspace@dukeslancaster.org

Download form here

*compromise may sometimes be needed and Gallery Space may be offered instead.

Creative Collaborators

Additionally, The Dukes lends support to selected companies (not an open-call opportunity) for an 18-month – 2-year period on projects that are aligned with The Dukes' artistic and strategic ambitions. 

Creative Collaborators receive the ongoing support of free space for rehearsals and administration, access to technical support and production facilities plus tailored marketing support. Work may be premiered in the season programme either as work in progress or full production. The Dukes also offers advocacy within Venues North and other relevant networks and events. 

Our current Creative Collaborators partner is One-Tenth Human. 


BLAST! is a weekend of new work showcased by The Dukes and takes place within the spring summer season. At its heart is an evening of new works in progress, (up to 20 mins each) presented by Lancashire or North West based artists, 5 of whom are supported by The Dukes each year under this festival. These artists are engaged by a combination of direct approach from the venue and open call.

Support granted includes seed commissioning money to progress the idea or act as match funding, access to rehearsal space, technical support and marketing, advocacy as above at Venues North and other events, public performance as part of BLASTFEST. 

Blast Fest logo

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.

By new work, we mean new theatre and performance, usually devised work or new writing, or work that explores the boundaries of theatrical form.

Venues North is not a closed network or an exclusive group of venues. It is a paid membership organisation open to any venue in the North that shares our commitment to supporting artists making new work.

The group meets three times a year.

Routes In: A Guide to Getting New Work Programmed in the North of England. Download the 2023 Routes in Guide Here