LEEDS 2023: New Leeds Cultural Education Partnership to 'inspire our young people'

Dr Briony Thomas, Chair of Leeds Cultural Education Partnership, writes here for the YEP.
Briony Thomas.Briony Thomas.
Briony Thomas.

Born and raised in LS2, I grew up on the doorstep to the city centre.

I walked everywhere, I was always in town; the theatres and galleries, nightlife and live music venues became part of who I was.

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I took it all in, it was a privilege to be involved in it all.

Every job I had as a young person in this city worked its magic on me – from a first job in Jumbo Records where I developed a love of music that led me into DJing – to a passion for fashion that flourished while working in Harvey Nichols as student.

From starting my BTEC through to completing my Masters - accompanied by my small baby - I studied continuously in Leeds before taking on a role working at the University.

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Outside teaching, I work with communities and schools to try to help young people to connect with art and culture; to examine how science and art go together.

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To explore how geometry is used to make patterns or symmetry in microscopic natural forms, and demonstrate that you don’t need to be ‘the arty one’ or maths whizz to benefit from taking a closer look at both and bringing them together.

I’ve seen first-hand how Leeds has evolved over the past 40 years and the impact the city can have on its young people.

It’s now time for me to help my community through the Leeds Cultural Education Partnership [LeedsCEP] where I’m honoured to have just been appointed Chair.

In partnership with LEEDS 2023, LeedsCEP will ensure that children and young people are at the very core of plans for the year of culture and continue to benefit when the year is over.

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LEEDS 2023 is going to be a time to inspire all our young people; it’s a huge opportunity to interest people of all ages in culture on a scale we just haven’t seen before.

I want to help LEEDS 2023 reach into those corners of the city where children or teenagers don’t feel like the arts is for them, to create reasons why they want to get involved and be part of something bigger.

The legacy will be a generation of young people who have been challenged and motivated by the events unfurling around them, understanding the value of culture to everyone.

I saw an Escher exhibition at Cartwright Hall in Bradford when I was a teen and it inspired my career and creative journey - Escher brought maths, crystallography, and art together, and his lesser-known 3D work inspired my PhD.

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It’s those seeds of an idea and different perspectives through arts and culture that can have a huge impact on young people.

If LEEDS 2023 can introduce and galvanise children across the city in activities that are positive and mean something to them, who knows where their journeys will lead.

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