Tourism bosses maintain Yorkshire Festival still has a future

PARTY TIME: Young Serayah Rose ready to dance  by the huge glitter ball at the Big Disco in Leeds. PIC: Tony Johnson
PARTY TIME: Young Serayah Rose ready to dance by the huge glitter ball at the Big Disco in Leeds. PIC: Tony Johnson
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TOURISM LEADERS have maintained an international arts festival staged as a legacy to the Tour de France in Yorkshire will continue despite concerns that funding has yet to be secured.

The landmark Yorkshire Festival was staged for the second time this year when it attracted more than 900 performers from 22 countries and hundreds of thousands of visitors.

However, a question mark remains over whether adequate funding can be secured for the biennial festival as the region is being lined up for a succession of major arts events.

Hull will host next year’s long-awaited City of Culture, while two of the region’s cities, Bradford and Sheffield, are vying to become the chosen location for the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018 – the same year when the next Yorkshire Festival is due to be held.

Leeds is also bidding to become the European City of Culture in 2023, and fears have been raised over whether funds can be secured to allow all the events to be staged.

The artistic director of this year’s Yorkshire Festival, Matt Burman, confirmed he has left the post after his contract came to an end, said: “We did have real success and built really strong relationships with arts partners across the whole of the country.

“If Welcome To Yorkshire says it is continuing in 2018 that is fantastic.

“Unfortunately, that (funding) has not been secured yet and I hope that it will be.”

Referring to the other major arts events, Mr Burman added: “The Yorkshire Festival can play a fantastic role working with all these partners to deliver something bigger and better for 2018. The project is something that Yorkshire is crying out for.

“I sincerely hope that money will be found in the near future to properly establish the festival as an ongoing project,”

Dan Bates, Yorkshire Festival Steering Group, was adamant that it is “everyone’s aspiration” for the Yorkshire Festival to return in 2018.

He said: “For me, as someone working in the arts in Sheffield and as a Welcome to Yorkshire board member, it is fantastic that our county has such an appetite and ambition for festivals both large and small.

“The 2014 Yorkshire festival lay strong foundations and the response to the 2016 Yorkshire festival reinforced this appetite. “

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CASH BOOST FOR THE REGION

THE Yorkshire Festival was the first ever cultural event to precede the Tour de France in its 111-year history when the bike race’s Grand Départ was staged in region in 2014.

The festival generated nearly £10m for the region’s economy.

This year’s event, which featured international artists performing street art and theatre, plays, music, art, fashion and dance, was handed £1m from the Government through Arts Council England as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative.

Highlights included the most fabulous Friday of all time with dancing shoes and the biggest party under the world’s largest disco ball right here in Leeds city centre.

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