#YesLeeds: Culture is in our art and soul

Jane Earnshaw and Abby Dix-Mason of Leeds Inspired, who run a project which nurtures grass roots arts groups and initiatives. PIC: Tony Johnson

Jane Earnshaw and Abby Dix-Mason of Leeds Inspired, who run a project which nurtures grass roots arts groups and initiatives. PIC: Tony Johnson

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A tiny office at Leeds Town Hall has become the beating heart of Leeds’ thriving grassroots cultural scene.

Leeds Inspired, a project that nurtures community creativity across the city, is made up of a small, dedicated team backed and funded by Leeds City Council.

It runs a small grants scheme, commissions community art pieces and runs a busy listings website.

Since Leeds Inspired started in 2012 , it has lived up to its name, helping 200 projects.

The team has been responsible for bringing major pieces like the illuminations on Light Night and The White Whale – a new version of Moby Dick – to the city.

Jane Earnshaw, programme manager at Leeds Inspired, says the aim is to “support homegrown artists to do big work in the city”.

Activities it has backed have included events at parks, community halls, markets, care homes, shopping centres and leisure centres.

Abby Dix-Mason, cultural development manager at Leeds Inspired, is especially proud of the website, which has become “a very true community” of event organisers and culture lovers.

Speaking of the potential bid for Leeds to become European Capital of Culture in 2023, something the YEP is championing, Abby said: “I really hope it will unite communities across Leeds. Brilliant art makes people really proud of where they live, and the level of talent in our city is really exciting.”

She stressed that whether the city wins the bid or not, “the process has to be about the journey, and how those conversations will make us feel as artists and as a community”.

Share your views by commenting on our website below, via Twitter @LeedsNews, email yep.newsdesk@ypn.co.uk or share your own stories, photos and videos

What is your favourite cultural organisation, asset or person in or from Leeds? The YEP has launched an online poll to find readers’ most loved cultural jewel, as the city prepares for a potential bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023. Is it our renowned opera and ballet companies? Famous exports like Henry Moore, Alan Bennett and the Kaiser Chiefs? The West Indian carnival? Or is it the city’s unique cinematic heritage that makes you most proud? To vote, visit www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk.

Get involved with the debate via our Facebook page or by following @LeedsNews on Twitter and using the #YesLeeds hashtag.

Keith (right) and Ashley Boots

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