An open letter from Leeds to the Government’s culture Minister

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Dear Secretary of State

We believe now is the right time for Government to launch the 2023 European Capital of Culture competition.

Sharon Watson, chair of the Leedss 2023 bid team

Sharon Watson, chair of the Leedss 2023 bid team

We appreciate the complex challenges of Brexit but, as you know, cities both inside and outside the European Union can hold the title.

Launching the competition now would help show the UK’s ongoing international outlook.

In Leeds, communities, businesses, and the city’s higher and further education providers have come together with Leeds City Council over the last three years to invest significant time and money anticipating the start of the competition in 2016.

Other UK cities have also been preparing their bids.

We want Leeds’ culture in all its forms to be valued and experienced by the broadest set of people, and for it to be central to the city’s identity and a driving force for its future - both economically and socially.

Regardless of which city ultimately wins, we are sure you want the same thing as all of us: to promote the cultural excellence and diversity of the UK to an international audience. We urge you to launch the competition and give the people of Leeds and elsewhere the chance to emulate Liverpool’s transformational year in 2008 which changed their city, and led to £750m of economic benefit. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sharon Watson, Chair of Leeds2023 / Artistic Director Phoenix Dance Theatre

Councillors Judith Blake (Leader of Leeds City Council); Andrew Carter CBE, Conservative group leader; Stewart Golton, Lib Dem group leader

Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council

Sir Alan Langlands, Vice Chancellor of University of Leeds

Professor Peter Slee, Vice Chancellor of Leeds Beckett University

Professor Margaret House, Vice Chancellor of Leeds Trinity University

Dr Shaid Mahmood, Chair Leeds City College

Prew Lumley, Chair of Leeds Business Improvement District

Gerald Jennings, President of Leeds Chamber of Commerce