By Russell Truran
A ballet group which wants Leeds to be officially crowned as City of Dance took its campaign to Leeds City Council today.
The CEO of Northern Ballet, Mark Skipper, 52, outlined his ideas in front of councillors at Leeds Civic Hall.
He has been a member of the company, based in the Quarry Hill area of Leeds, for the past 27 years and has been their chief executive since 1996.
He said: “We wanted to show that Leeds is a city of dance and how the city is connected to the rest of the UK, and the world, through dance.”
Mr Skipper told the council that Leeds was the most important city outside London for dance. It has three dedicated dance buildings, with a total of 20 dance studios, three theatres, two international touring companies, one of the first national dance agencies, the only Government funded dance conservatoire in the world and, last year alone, dance brought in £11.5m to the city.
He said: “Dance is important for education, health, social cohesion and regeneration. People dance for fun, fitness, to meet others and to express their creativity.
“Research tells us that dance is a popular activity for five million participants or close to ten per cent of the UK population. Dance is second only to football as the most popular activity for school children.”
WATCH: Mark Skipper talks about Northern Ballet’s future plans for Leeds…
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for Leisure and Skills at Leeds City Council, has been supporting the campaign.
She said: “Culture comes under my portfolio, including dance, so I’ve been working closely with the dance companies to look at how we can tell our story about dance in the city and how do we promote Leeds as a city of dance.”
LISTEN to Councillor Yeadon talking about how dance can benefit Leeds: