City leaders have called for Leeds to believe more in its arts scene and shout about the city’s ‘cultural richness’ - especially in the run-up to the bid for the European Capital of Culture 2023 title.
From the masses of grassroots organisations in outer Leeds to the jewels in the city centre’s crown - such as Leeds Grand, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Henry Moore Institute, Opera North - Leeds is undoubtedly bursting with a diverse arts scene. But panellists on the latest YEP Voice of Leeds Summit questioned whether the city championed that enough and suggested an Edinburgh Festival-style event could best showcase what it has to offer.
Figureheads from the private, public and third sectors gathered at the YEP’s office yesterday for the latest in a string of summits, organised with the Leeds Community Foundation, to tackle some of the burning issues of the city - which this month was arts and culture.
Rory Wardroper, fundraising consultant for Opera North, said the city needs to have a vision for its cultural scene and find cheerleaders to spread the word. He said: “People are very keen to champion sport but not so keen to champion the arts.
“What we want people to understand, surely, is that we enrich people’s lives in a way no-one else does.”
The meeting heard art needs to more visible, to encourage people to engage with it. James Hill, director of Pyramid of the Arts, suggested holding more festivals and bring the “rich texture” of arts currently in outer Leeds, into the city centre,
Coun Brian Selby, support member for culture, said: “Possibly a Leeds Festival might be one thing to look at. It sounds silly but why not?
“Manchester has a festival, Liverpool has a festival. Why shouldn’t we have a festival?”
***The YEP’s Voice of Leeds Summits 2015 tackle a range of issues affecting the city. The first five have already addressed: social isolation, youth unemployment, bridging the digital divide in Leeds, domestic violence, and now arts and culture.
Throughout the rest of the year, topics scheduled for debate include food waste, mental health and housing.
YEP readers can also take part by submitting questions to put to the city’s policy makers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.