Government urged to celebrate Leeds’s cultural ‘wealth’ amid uncertainty surrounding Capital of Culture bid

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The Government is facing mounting pressure to greenlight the next round of bids for European Capital of Culture, as Yorkshire MPs urge ministers to cash in on the region’s ”wealth” of cultural assets.

Writing to culture minister Matthew Hancock, the group of MPs claim promoting the region’s heritage is the key to unlocking local investment and enhancing quality of life.

However, they argue the area has so far failed to gain the reputation for culture it “deserves”, despite being home to the UK’s “third largest and most diverse” city.

They have therefore called for the UK to commit to taking part in the 2023 Capital of Culture competition, and encouraged ministers to visit Leeds as it makes its bid for the title.

“Culture is critical to confidence, which directly benefits inward investment and economic prosperity, as well as improved quality of life,” the group writes.

“The UK city of culture project has already changed the city of Hull and will do significantly next year and in the future.

“Leeds has a wealth of cultural assets – including Opera North, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Northern Ballet – but as the UK’s third largest city and the most diverse... it does not have the reputation it deserves.

“The Government could further help efforts underway in the region ...[by making] an announcement on the European Capital of Culture 2023 competition in coming weeks.”

The letter, written by members of the Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire APPG, comes amid growing speculation about the future of the EU-led Capital of Culture scheme following June’s Brexit vote.

There are reports that the Government is looking to pull out of the competition.