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‘Year of Culture’ idea after 2023 disappointment

Joe Taylor and Dreda Blow previewing Northern Ballets  production of Casanova at a launch event to Leeds business leaders backing the doomed Leeds 2023 City of Culture bid. Picture Tony Johnson.
Joe Taylor and Dreda Blow previewing Northern Ballets production of Casanova at a launch event to Leeds business leaders backing the doomed Leeds 2023 City of Culture bid. Picture Tony Johnson.

Councillors have called for Leeds to have its own “Year of Culture” after major doubt was cast over the city’s ability to become European Capital of Culture 2023.

The city’s expensive bid was shot down last month after the EU Commission said UK cities would no longer be eligible for the title once Britain has exited the European Union.

However, Tory opposition members in the city are expected to formally launch a proposal for a 12-month cultural showcase at January’s full meeting of Leeds City Council.

Coun Dan Cohen said that “rather than lose all the effort and work that’s gone into preparing our bid, I think this still gives us a tremendous opportunity to promote our city on the national and international stage by hosting our own year-long cultural extravaganza.

“I want to see the council focus on delivering a year of events that highlight the city’s fantastic cultural heritage and show what a thriving, successful city Leeds is.”

His Alwoodley ward colleague Coun Neil Buckley added: “Let’s build on all that good will and work in partnership to deliver something special for the city.”

The council’s Executive Board was told by chief executive Tom Riordan on Wednesday that it is “unlikely” that the EU would reverse the decision about UK cities being crowned European Capital of Culture.

The meeting was told the council’s cash spend on the bid was £155,000, while the private and education sector spending added up to at least £650,000.