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Arts organisations rally round 2023 European Capital of Culture Bid

A view of Clarence Dock, Leeds, at night

A view of Clarence Dock, Leeds, at night

by Hayley Longster

With the news that Leeds will bid to become a European Capital of Culture in 2023, arts organisations around the city have been offering their support for the bid.

Cities that hold the title organise programme of events both to showcase their cultural highlights and represent Europe on the world stage.

Despite the possible £14m price tag of these events, both arts organisations and members of the public are widely in support of the bid and wish it to succeed.

It is felt that the costs would be dwarfed by the potential financial rewards, seen previously by the likes of Liverpool when it was awarded the title in 2008.

West Yorkshire Playhouse, the only major English regional theatre not to have enjoyed significant capital re-development in the past ten years, may receive up to £5m in funding from Leeds City Council in the hopes of securing the bid.

The money would partially pay for a proposed £14m extension to the theatre, and a remodelling of the entrance which would make access to the theatre from city centre shops easier.

This money may also encourage the Arts Council to respond to the Playhouse’s requests for further funding. Their last application for regeneration monies failed in 2013.

The West Yorkshire Playhouse may also change its name back to The Leeds Playhouse in order to add kudos for the city itself. It was known as The Leeds Playhouse prior to 1990 when it moved from its old University of Leeds site to the one it now occupies on Quarry Hill.

Members of the public in Leeds yesterday were keen to offer their support also, the general consensus being, “Why hasn’t Leeds been a Capital of Culture already?”

Most people knew of the award but were not yet aware of Leeds’ upcoming bid for it.

We asked them how they would allocate some of the financial spoils that may come from being awarded the honour.

The City Council released a statement yesterday encouraging people to get involved with the steering committee that will organise and promote the bid.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Above all, it is imperative that at its heart, the bid paints a true picture of what a vibrant, dynamic and culturally diverse city Leeds is and that it typifies the passion and enthusiasm of the people who live here.”

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