Art and culture venues in Leeds benefit from government grant to help post COVID recovery

The arts and culture sector in Leeds is set for a boost to its post COVID recover after a successful bid for grant funding.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 11:45 am

Leeds City Council is one of a number of organisations in the city which have been awarded a share of Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund, giving the authority’s venues crucial extra support to welcome back visitors after the pandemic.

It has been given a grant of £302,750, which will be spent on relaunching the city’s Arts Events and Venues programme and its nine museums and galleries sites and offering the millions of annual visitors a range of new, exciting and engaging cultural experiences both online and in person.

Despite being largely closed over the course of the pandemic, the city’s arts and culture venues have continued to keep in touch with tens of thousands of fans and visitors through a range of online activities and performances including live-streamed recitals from Leeds Town Hall’s organ, virtual activities as part of the city’s annual Light Night event and online museum exhibitions and learning resources.

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The extensive collection at Leeds Library.

Since March 2020 the Leeds Museums and Galleries website has seen 50,000 visits to their new virtual visit section and more than 18,000 hours of footage watched on their YouTube channel. In addition arts and events venues websites, such as Leeds Town Hall, Millennium Square and The Carriageworks Theatre, have had 1,319,472 visits over the past year.

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Investment in new technology will also enable more performances to be live streamed so socially disadvantaged groups or residents unable to travel can have more opportunities to attend virtually, making the programme more inclusive.

The grant will also help Leeds, Museums and Galleries to give visitors chance to rediscover areas of their buildings which have been off limits during the pandemic.

Leeds Town Hall.

A range of new post-lockdown events will be planned based on feedback over the past 10 months and will include a wellbeing events programme at Lotherton Hall, new trails in the landscape at Temple Newsam and Lotherton, smaller-scale outdoor performing arts events at Lotherton as well older people’s outreach and on site sessions.

The service will also expand its already extensive work with community and cultural organisations and creative practitioners in the city.

Coun Mary Harland, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy and culture, said: “Throughout the pandemic, staff across our arts and cultural venues have shown such remarkable resilience and creativity, keeping audiences engaged and enthralled despite the immense challenges they have faced.

“This grant represents a huge endorsement of their work and just reward for the help, hope and entertainment they have brought to tens of thousands of people in Leeds during one of toughest times the city has faced in recent memory.

The Carriageworks Theatre.

“Everyone working in our venues cannot wait to open their doors again and this funding will also support their plans to do so safely and sustainably so the people of Leeds can confidently enjoy the city’s unique cultural offering once again.”

Meanwhile, The Leeds Library has received a grant of £28,100 to help support it reopen its doors on April 12 and extend opening hours to members and visitors over the coming months. The Leeds Library is one of the heritage gems of the city, and the oldest membership subscription Library still in existence in the British Isles.

Carl Hutton, CEO of The Leeds Library said: “Thanks to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund we can now look to invest in our heritage and open up the Library quickly not just for our members but also for visitors over the coming months so they can engage with our heritage story. We’re grateful that the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund is supporting us at this crucial time – it’s a lifeline for us and others who are passionate about sustaining heritage for the benefit of all.”

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