‘Winning the Capital of Culture bid will expand art’s role in Leeds society’

Karen Watson, East Street Arts' founder and artistic director
Karen Watson, East Street Arts' founder and artistic director
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A haven for emerging and established artists alike, East Street Arts is a pioneering national arts organization that has provided creative spaces, opportunity and inspiration to artists for the past 25 years.

Based in east Leeds, their diverse programme of public activities and community projects help to ‘demystify’ and open up contemporary art and culture, so that it can be enjoyed by all.

Now, East Street Arts want to help make Leeds the European Capital of Culture in 2023. Founder and Artistic Director, Karen Watson, is excited by the impact that a successful bid might have in expanding art’s role within society:

“We focus on what we think of as two sides of a coin: supporting artists and arts organizations to develop their work and become sustainable; and working within communities to enhance lives using art and creativity.

Many arts and cultural organisations are working really hard in the background to develop a sector that is making a positive impact on a wide range of people and communities in Leeds. Winning the bid would help to make this work more visible, and help to create more opportunities for more people to get involved and enjoy the arts”.

An ongoing project at East Street Arts is ‘A City Less Grey’, in which local and national street artists are injecting colour into the streets of Leeds through a series of installations and murals. The project features Nomad Clan’s “Athena Rising”, which, at 46.8 metres tall, is the tallest piece of street art in the UK. Winning the bid could help Leeds see more exciting and large scale arts projects like this one.

As a pledge of support for the 2023 bid, East Street Arts will ask 23 artists to respond creatively to what the bid means to them. The artist’s work will be widely shared to raise awareness of the bid, and to inspire others to support it in their own way.

Everyone in Leeds can pledge their support for Leeds’ Capital of Culture 2023 bid by posting their activities on social media using #makeleeds2023.

Other suggestions for pledges include telling 23 family and friends about the bid, sharing details about the bid with everyone on your social networks or downloading the exciting Maker’s Manual, which includes creative ideas for how to get involved, from the Leeds 2023 website.

Sharon Watson, chair of the Leeds 2023 independent steering group, said: “The enthusiasm for the bid that we’ve already seen from people across Leeds has been truly inspiring and it’s clearer than ever that there’s an incredible passion for this once-in-a-generation opportunity for our city.

“With the all-important submission date now fast approaching, we’re keen to harness that collective energy and help spread the message that the bid is something that everyone, from every walk of life can be a part of.

“We’d urge as many people as possible to take this chance to get involved, pledge their support and help show the world that culture is at the absolute heart of Leeds and our communities.”

More details of how to pledge your support or where you can download a Maker’s Manual can be found at:

http://leeds2023.co.uk/

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