Leeds delegation is set to bang the drum for city’s European Capital of Culture bid

Leeds's recent Light Night cultural celebration.
Leeds's recent Light Night cultural celebration.

Big-hitters from the Leeds arts scene are preparing to use their personal powers of persuasion as they make the case for the city to be named European Capital of Culture 2023.

A team of up to 10 key figures involved with Leeds’s bid for the prestigious title is expected to be interviewed by the competition’s jury in London in the next few weeks.

The other bidders – now confirmed as Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Dundee and Belfast in partnership with Derry – will undergo the same interview process.

A shortlist is then expected to be announced before the end of the year, with a final decision likely on the successful candidate in the middle of 2018.

And there is no shortage of support out there for Leeds, with major cultural players continuing to wax lyrical about the city’s bid since its official submission on Friday.

West Yorkshire Playhouse executive director Robin Hawkes told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “The Leeds 2023 Capital of Culture bid provides an incredible opportunity for Leeds and the rich and vibrant culture this city has to offer.

“West Yorkshire Playhouse is thrilled to support the bid and we look forward to the possibility of playing a key role in this exciting programme which has huge potential to energise and enliven Leeds’s already thriving cultural scene.”

Northern Ballet chief executive Mark Skipper said: “Northern Ballet is delighted to back the bid. Leeds is an exceptional city for culture with a diverse wealth of talent, creativity and first class organisations.

“It would be fantastic to become European Capital of Culture 2023.”

If Leeds’s 2023 bid is successful, then a game-changing programme of dance, music, visual art, theatre and architectural projects would be set in motion across all 33 of the city’s council wards.

High-profile proposals include the creation of a park, complete with giant lighthouse, in the South Bank regeneration area and a redevelopment of City Square.

A festival called I Predict A Riot would be planned, curated and produced by a team of 15-year-olds.

It is hoped Leeds’s year as Europe’s culture capital would lead to a 20 per cent rise in arts participation in the five most disadvantaged areas of the city.

Well-known figures backing the Leeds bid also include singer Corinne Bailey Rae, Kaiser Chiefs bassist Simon Rix and Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire.

Liverpool is the most recent UK city to be named European Capital of Culture, having held the title in 2008.

Glasgow is the only other previous UK recipient of the honour, with its year in the spotlight coming in 1990.

Other hosts over the years have included the likes of Madrid, Berlin, Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam.

Leeds’s bid to follow in their footsteps is being led by an independent steering group but has cross-party support from Leeds City Council and is backed by a wide range of commercial partners and sponsors.

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