Leeds 2023.
Leeds City Council Leader, Judith Blake.
Nick Hill

Leeds unveils 'Weaving Us Together' bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023

The team spearheading Leeds’ bid to be European Capital of Culture 2023 has unveiled a year-long programme of plans to create a cultural celebration across all 33 wards in the city in 2023.

At a press conference held on 10th October, Leeds City Council leader, Judith Blake, shared highlights from the first stage bid ahead of its submission on 27th October.

Introducing the theme of the bid, she said: “We promised that this would be a bid for the whole city and we intend to deliver on that promise, Culture can weave us together, celebrating our differences and tackling difficult issues that we face together as a city.

“This is the transformation at the heart of our bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023.

“The city’s bid for the title will create a lasting legacy for Leeds, embracing equality and tackling the disconnection of a two-tier city.

“Under the theme ‘Weaving Us Together’, Leeds 2023 will see activity across all 33 wards; we want to see people from across the city actively engaged, particularly those who might not think the arts is for them.”

Winning this bid would provide significant benefits for Leeds, with Liverpool reporting a £750m economic impact for the year as host in 2008 and a 34% increase in tourism.

Sharon Watson, chair of the Leeds 2023 Independent Steering Group, added: “It has been a phenomenal journey to get to this point and it’s only the start. The bid alone has given the city enormous benefits from increased investment in arts and culture to raising our profile nationally and internationally.

“We have put forward a bold, creative and ambitious artistic programme that will celebrate local artists, creators and producers alongside their international contemporaries, telling our story to the world.”

Amongst the developments already in the pipeline for Leeds 2023 are plans to create an additional 2,500 hotel beds, the redevelopment of City Square and the proposed new City Park at South Bank,

Cllr Blake added: “Culture is completely integral to Leeds’ ambition to become Best City 2030, our bid is one milestone in a long-term plan to place culture at the heart of the city’s future and we are not alone in this commitment.

“Our bid has received extensive private sector investment and has won the backing of 25 councils from across the north including Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Hull.”

Leeds City Council will formally consider the city’s bid at its Executive Board meeting on 18th October. The city will then formally submit its first stage bid to the Department for Culture Media and Sport on 27th October. The bid submission will be followed by a panel interview with a shortlist expected to be announced early December.

Leeds 2023 is supported by the following organisations: Leeds City Council; University of Leeds; Leeds Beckett University; Leeds Trinity University; Leeds Arts University; Leeds College of Music; Leeds College of Building; Leeds City College; Northern School of Contemporary Dance; Yorkshire Water; Yorkshire Building Society; Yorkshire Bank; aql; Squire Patton Boggs; Arup; Turner & Townsend; DLA Piper; Bruntwood; Keepmoat; Rushbond; Awesome Merchandise; Leeds Business Improvement District; Welcome to Yorkshire, Leeds Bradford Airport; Visit Leeds; and West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

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