ONE of the region’s leading dance companies plans to promote Yorkshire as an economic and cultural powerhouse when it tours China next year.
Phoenix Dance Theatre, which is based in Leeds, will head to China next summer to help raise its global profile. The dance company staged an event in Leeds to forge closer links between the region’s businesses, local government and the artistic community.
Phoenix Dance artistic director Sharon Watson, who is also the chairman of the independent steering group of the Leeds Capital of Culture 2023 bid, said there were many ways that businesses can form relationships with the arts and “sometimes it’s not about the monetary relationship.”
She said the Capital of Culture bid had enabled Leeds people to connect politically, socially and economically.
Ms Watson also hoped businesses would be inspired by the fact that Phoenix had secured dates to perform in China.
She added: “We hadn’t anticipated it would happen so quickly, so I guess that’s a credit to the brand and the work that we do.
“We want to make sure the brand of Leeds, and Phoenix is international. We hope most businesses will see that as a real coup; that we could carry their brand across the world. I hope it’s the first of many.”
A Phoenix Dance spokesman said the performance dates in China are still being finalised, but it is anticipated that the company will perform in Hanghzou in late July and it may also carry out education work as part of the tour in Hangzhou and Hong Kong.
The Arts Business Matters breakfast event, which was held at Phoenix Dance Theatre’s headquarters in Leeds, aimed to explore ways that businesses could work with Phoenix Dance to promote the arts.
The speakers included Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake and the council’s chief executive Tom Riordan.
In her speech, Coun Blake, said: “We are reticent about the great things we have here. We do some things very well in this city. We are probably the most diverse city in the country. We have an incredible story to tell about cohesion.”
Coun Blake said she had recently attended a meeting of global council leaders in Slovenia.
“The cities in Europe are feeling really very stressed at the moment,” she said. “It is not just in the UK that we are going through real questions about our future.
“It is so important that Leeds actually steps up to the plate, and takes responsibility, and gets out on a world stage and tells people what we are already achieving, and what we could do so much better.”
She added: “The Capital of Culture bid is so important for us. We have to change the mantra.
“We shouldn’t talk about the cost of culture, we should talk about the investment in culture and how much flows from that to the benefit of people in the city and beyond. Leeds’s role in the region is absolutely pivotal.”
She congratulated Ms Watson and the team from Phoenix Dance on securing an agreement to perform in China.
Coun Blake added: “Somehow Sharon and her team have managed to cut through all the bureaucracy of China. and they have secured dates to go out there next year to perform.”
She said that all the business leaders in the room could make a contribution to promoting Leeds.