How to get the whole city excited about the Leeds 2023 year of culture - Chris Ansell

How do you get a whole city excited about culture? Leeds 2023 head of creative learning and engagement Chris Ansell shares his thoughts.

By Chris Ansell
Monday, 1st August 2022, 11:45 am
Updated Monday, 1st August 2022, 12:39 pm

Culture is everywhere, every day in Leeds. And by ‘culture’ I mean the everyday creativity that so many of us engage in, without even thinking it’s Culture (with a capital C).

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You’ll find culture with a walk down our streets, through our parks, into our schools and faith spaces, even shopping centres and workplaces. We want to tap into all that energy that’s just simmering away across our city; to bring it together, let it loose and shine a light on all this creativity in our year of culture, Leeds 2023.

Leeds 2023 head of creative learning and engagement Chris Ansell.

Leeds 2023 gives us an opportunity to do something different in our city and if we want to show the rest of the world what we’re really made of, we need everyone to be involved.

Engaging as many people as possible from our diverse city of around 750,000 residents is no small feat but if – when – we do, that will be truly inspirational. Is it possible to involve the whole city? I believe so. And, in collaboration with communities across the city, the work to make that possible has already started. We want to ensure that as many people as possible, from all areas of Leeds, can be involved in some way, whether that’s learning something new, taking part, volunteering, or enjoying what’s going on.

There is incredible cultural diversity and a huge range of different interests here. From local groups to nationally significant arts organisations - Leeds has it all.

Leeds 2023 is building on this talent, growing our connections in communities in every Leeds postcode with projects like ‘My World My City My Neighbourhood’ and ‘Hidden Stories’ helping us to create authentically ‘Leeds’ events next year. The events that take place throughout the year will happen in all 33 wards, sometimes in places you wouldn’t expect, and we want to make sure no-one misses out.

By working with our diverse communities to develop so many ways to get involved, we will create a year of activity that benefits people across the city. Culture brings something incredibly valuable to Leeds and the people that live here, in addition to the tangible economic benefits. In creating a programme that is genuinely rooted in Leeds and is inclusive, varied, and accessible, we will create a memorable year that brings happiness, improves wellbeing, and celebrates the sense of pride we all have in our city.

The year of culture will also provide opportunities for people to learn and develop new skills. We’ll ensure every child in Leeds has the opportunity to take part, and create memorable learning experiences that spark the imagination. Teaching through creative and cultural experiences can inspire children and can have a lasting impact on that young person and their achievement in all subject areas. Our young people will carry forward the legacy of

Leeds 2023, and we are committed to getting each school in Leeds involved. But it’s not just school children; people of all ages will also be able learn new skills through Leeds 2023. We’re creating new opportunities for people to develop invaluable skills in the creative industries, that will open doors to careers and support the city’s economy. And, our team of over a thousand volunteers will develop skills, meet new people, have fun, and help deliver a memorable year for Leeds.

Leeds 2023 is our city’s landmark year and it’s an opportunity to be part of something truly special. By working together, we will produce a year of culture that celebrates the diverse creativity found across city and gives everyone the chance to get involved and let culture loose.