Leeds 2023 promises to “let culture loose”

Readers may remember that back in 2015 Leeds decided to bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2023. Hopes were dashed when following so much work by people across the city, UK cities were banned from entering following the vote to leave the EU. The city collectively said “Let’s do it anyway!” and this is some of what we can expect from Leeds 2023:

Artists have been asked to “let culture loose” to coincide with the launch of LEEDS 2023. Across the city and online, projects include:

Artist Kate Genever has been working collaboratively with children & young people on “Letting Loose in the City”. Across Leeds, school children were asked “to imagine Leeds afresh – a city for the future. If you could make it and build it any way you liked, what would it be?”. Kate has made drawings inspired by the ideas the children came up with and a set of prints of these will be sent to each child and school that contributed. Every child in Leeds will have an opportunity to take part in activity across the city’s big year.

The Holbeck-based charity Pyramid has collaborated with artist Emma Hardaker to create a new sculpture by learning disabled artists and will be sited in Meanwood – more details to follow.

Hookers & Clickers is a local crochet & knitting group who have collaborated with artists Rosie Vohra and Amelia Wood from artist-led studio Assembly House to create a sculpture celebrating Armley’s rich industrial heritage.

A film fusing original poetry, voices and music to celebrate the diversity of languages spoken in the city has been produced by multi award winning writer and performer Rommi Smith and film and photography director Ndrika Anyika. Musician and composer Ivan Stott will collaborate on the poem written and performed by Rommi with members of MAFWA Theatre Company and refugees and asylum seekers through Armley’s allotment project and Armley’s Christ Church Meeting Point Project.

Sable Radio the independent radio station are hosting a specially curated show live from restaurant and grocery store Eat Your Greens. The station’s tagline is “made in Leeds, enjoyed worldwide” and guests will include mainstays of the Leeds cultural scene. Listeners can tune in at sableradio.com to hear conversations ranging from the histories of carnivals in Leeds and Sheffield to the function of art in queer rave culture.

As part of the project Lens Lab Leeds, photographers Benedict Philips and Jonathan Turner have been taking a mobile dark room to Lincoln Green & Burmantofts and taking photographs of people living in the community. Participants are posted a print of a photo taken with a Victorian wet plate and another with a super high resolution camera that they can keep for years to come.

The launch of LEEDS 2023 took place on Tuesday (25 May 2021) at Left Bank Leeds.

Kully Thiarai, Creative Director and Chief Executive LEEDS 2023 said:

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to be part of our year of culture; there is so much to showcase to the world about the city, its people and its creativity. I’m excited that today we’ve been able to share some of the ways we will do that.

“LEEDS 2023 is all about ‘letting culture loose’ and being completely open to any and all ideas that emerge, involving as many local people as possible in this crucial and exciting stage. Our imagination enables us all to be storytellers. Creativity is in all of us, sometimes we just need to be guided to re-connect with that bit of ourselves that wants to joyfully and curiously play and dream. LEEDS 2023 creates an opportunity for us all to come together and collectively do this.

“LEEDS 2023 will be a catalyst for transformation; one that brings people together to participate, celebrate and see the world afresh. It also will be a massive team effort locally, regionally, nationally and internationally and I’m thrilled to welcome our latest Patrons Corinne Bailey Rae and Simon Rix whose backing is a big vote of confidence in our vision for LEEDS 2023 and all that we are trying to do.”