What we do

Lyra's vision is to have a positive impact on the lives of children and young people in our community, through long-term engagement with a broad, rich performing arts programme. Our cross art-form programme includes music, dance and theatre-making, bringing children and young people together with world-class arts professionals from Scotland and abroad. 


Lyra’s core purpose is to create a programme of the highest quality artworks and projects with, for and by children and young people. As well as performances by our young people, the events programme at Artspace includes performances from world-class children's theatre companies. 


We work in creative partnership with our children and young people, and our approach aims to raise aspirations through world-class provision, improve confidence by developing new skills and increase self-esteem by nurturing creative expression.
Our regular Young Artists workshop programme provides a framework for participants to ‘Watch, Learn and Create’ across the arts. 


All activity at Lyra is free of charge and the Young Artists programme is open to anyone who wants to take part. 


Our approach to engagement that spans all our activities, enabling participants to:
• Watch live performance events as audience members
• Learn new skills by taking part in regular classes (such as dance, music and drama)
• Create their own performances

Watch, Learn, Create: A journey of discovery


“It made me happy, I was dancing to Ghostbusters” – audience member, Sprog Rock

Watching quality live performance improves:
  • Social skills

  • Sense of worth and belonging

  • Aspiration

  • Empathy

  • Confidence

In 2016, our audiences watched a total of 20 different shows from Scotland and around the world.  Lyra’s regular programme provides children with a safe place to have fun and meet friends, replacing boredom or harmful activity.  We recognise that all not children want to perform on stage, however, by watching shows everyone can join in. 


The ‘Watch’ strand of our programme is for every child and young person.


“I had confidence going on stage, doing the trombone bit by myself” 
For young people who regularly attend our workshops, each week is a chance to learn new skills and develop technique in a chosen art-form, such as music, dance and multimedia or to train in backstage skills such as lighting, set, props, costumes and sound.  In just one year, we see young people progress from complete beginners to presenting high quality dance, music and theatre on stage.  Many participants attend more than one group a week with older members taking on volunteer and paid roles. 


In addition to making their own work with Lyra, we also secure opportunities for participants with world-class artists and organisations such as the Royal Scottish ConservatoireImaginateEdinburgh International Book Festival and associate dance-theatre company Curious Seed.


“Being at Lyra has changed my daughter”  

Participants have the opportunity to create their own work throughout our programme and as part of our regular workshop sessions as well as through opportunities with visiting and resident artists and Lyra’s partner organisations. 


Previous participants have created work with performance maker Lou Brodie, choreographer Hannah Venet and writer Xana Marwick. 


Young people also have the opportunity to perform in Lyra’s professional productions.

“I feel proud of myself that I did that!”

Meet the Team


Jo Timmins

Artistic Director

Jo is the founder and Artistic Director of Lyra, creating and developing the company’s highly successful model of working.  Originally trained as a director at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, she has worked in theatre, dance and design, with a focus on performing arts for children and teenagers. 


Jo created PigeonHush and Rebecca’s Midnight for Lyra and has worked with Irish dance-theatre company Junk Ensemble as co-creator (Bird with Boy), designer (Sometimes we break, Tate Britain commission) and director (The Rain Party).  


Jo has directed for Kopergietery (Belgium) and Catherine Wheels (Scotland) and was a Fresh Tracks Europe choreographer in 2013 (Vienna).  Jo is the recipient of a Winston Churchill Fellowship and a Dewar Arts Award. ​


Natalia Barua

Arts Facilitator

Natalia is responsible for coordinating the engagement of our participants across a range of activity within Lyra’s programme, delivering workshops as well as facilitating collaborations between participants and visiting artists. 
Natalia is a dance artist working predominantly in video dance, interdisciplinary performance and participation. She has worked in participation for over 10 years as a practitioner, facilitator and producer, designing and delivering community and professional projects. She co-directed Diverse Dance an inclusive dance company in London from 2013-2017, presenting work at Siobhan Davies Dance Studios, Big Dance Bus, Southbank Centre and Lost Theatre. Natalia has worked with multiple organisations across the UK including East London Dance, English National Ballet School, Step Into Dance, Roundhouse, YDance and Pavilion Dance South West as well as councils, grass-roots organisations and charities. Natalia's video dance productions have been awarded at and screened at festivals worldwide and installed at venues throughout the UK. In 2016 she received a Lisa Ullmann Traveling Scholarship.

Anna Plasberg-Hill

Projects and Engagement Manager

Anna’s role at Lyra is to lead and oversee the smooth running of Lyra’s projects, engagement programme and creative events.
Anna studied Drama, Applied Theatre and Education at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (2012), and subsequently went on to train in Physical Theatre at St Mary’s University College (2013). Since graduating, Anna has worked as a practitioner, project coordinator and producer in a range of arts and engagement contexts, particularly focusing on projects with children, young people and communities. She has worked with a number of organisations including Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, Children’s Parliament, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Aberdeen Performing Arts, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Kulturmanagement Solingen (Germany) and the National Theatre of Scotland. 

Our Board

Lyra are supported by the board of trustees, who bring a wealth of experience in education, arts company management, finance, charity work and essential knowledge of the local area. The Board meets regularly and not only plays an active role in the planning of the organisation’s activity, but also actively supporting the ongoing fundraising and strategic development of the company.
Lyra Trustees:
Louise Gilmour-Wills 

Pamela Redpath (Treasurer)

Graham Parry 

Helen Horn

Kathryn Brack

Sarah Leary

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11 Harewood Road
EH16 4NT

+44 (0) 131 659 4737

+44 (0) 7400 099 762 

Lyra is a Limited Company, SC280248 and Scottish Charity SC036506
Lyra is grateful for financial support from Creative Scotland, BBC Children in Need, Garfield Weston Foundation, Kintry Environmental Trust, The Robertson Trust, Big Lottery Fund Uk - Young Start, The Corra Foundation, The Barcapel Foundation, The Hugh Fraser Foundation and The Nancie Massey Charitable Trust