Call to challenge ‘grim up north’ perception as Leeds prepares culture capital bid

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LEEDS should challenge the ‘grim up north’ perception head-on - and give the south a run for its money - as the city prepares to bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2023.

The cultural call-to-arms comes as a senior council panel prepares to sign off the start of the official application process for the prestigious title.

Over the past 18 months, council chiefs have sought residents’ opinions on whether or not to bid for the title.

Their findings are documented in a detailed report to be discussed by Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday.

It is hoped the meeting will kickstart a journey which will culminate in a glorious year of activities showcasing the best of the city’s cultural and creative offerings.

The report to the executive board provides a string of examples of responses to questions about the bid proposal.

One question council chiefs asked the public was: “What should the bid achieve for the city and the people of Leeds to make it worthwhile for us to bid?”

One respondent stated: “Challenge the grim up north perception; raise the profile of Leeds in the UK and internationally; celebrate Leeds as a great place to live. Get across the message that Leeds is here. We’re on the map.”

The report states: “The strength of feeling was in favour of a bid and of planning a programme that would be truly for everyone and take place everywhere in the city.

“The council was urged to iron out the various failings of our public transport system in time for 2023, highlighting the importance of linking our cultural strategy to the overall development strategy for the city.”

It is thought the council would be expected to make a minimum commitment of 20 million Euros (£14m) to host the year, should the bid be successful.