this week I submitted the Yorkshire Evening Post’s pledge to support the City of Culture Bid 2023.
The paper also got a slap on the wrist from reader Martin Phillips who wrote, amongst other observations: “Everything that is wrong with the Leeds City of Culture bid was exemplified in an article in the YEP: the picture attached to the article was of the Northern Ballet.
“We never get a picture of Leeds Morris Men or rock ‘n’ rollers at Moortown associated with articles for the City of Culture bid. 99.9 per cent of Leeds’ residents have never been to the ballet. ”
There was a lack of imagination in our use of picture (my wrist is slapped!) but the bid is not about celebrating only the “high-brow” arts, but all the cultural events in Leeds and how much more the city could do if it won. Culture (I wish there was a better word) means a wide variety of entertainment and events including sport, music, galas, dance, theatre, film and so on.
Take cricket as an example. Is the Test at Headingley “elitist” because of the ticket prices - probably yes.
But locally the sport is played and watched thoughout Leeds and would certainly be seen as a cultural activity. Northern Ballet would argue that they are not exclusive (as a young reporter I covered their move to Yorkshire when they came to Halifax many years ago and I know the company works extremely hard NOT to be elitist). Perhaps most Leeds’ residents have not been to the ballet but how many children throughout this city take part in local dance classes and perform for parents and friends?
The whole point of the bid IS to highlight our varied culture in Leeds and the potential for more, and to ensure it is more inclusive, clearly more work needs to be done to get that point across.