Leeds College of Music

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EUROCITIES Culture Forum experts gather in Leeds

Culture experts from across Europe gathered in Leeds as the city celebrated its most colourful annual arts spectacular in October 2019. Leeds City Council, who worked closely with University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds’ cultural sector, were proud to welcome 98 of the continent’s top cultural experts, representative of 58 different cities and 100 delegates, to the latest EUROCITIES Culture Forum.

Following the theme of ‘celebrating diversity through innovative cultural partnerships, the forum coincided with Leeds’ spectacular Light Night event, which saw over 60 illuminated installations and performances from across the globe transform some of the city centre’s most recognisable landmarks, buildings and locations. This is the UK’s largest annual arts and lights festival and is a pinnacle in the events calendar of the North of the UK.

The forum provided a platform for delegates to discover more about the city’s collaborative approach to ensuring that increasingly diverse audiences are provided with an equal access to culture, whilst also demonstrating how Leeds as a city encourages people from all walks of life to become artists and cultural practitioners. This worked in a collaborative way, with workshops where teams were able to share successes and challenges and discuss how Leeds as a city has learnt from its experience over decades of welcoming new arrivals and developing long-established communities.

Featuring a keynote speech by Creative Director of Leeds 2023, Kully Thiarai, delegates were given the opportunity to gain an insight into the future of Leeds 2023, and how the city plans to embrace its rich diversity and shine a light on thriving arts and culture in communities within the area. Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake, Director of Leeds Playhouse and Vice Chancellor of the University of Leeds also took to the stand, offering their insight and expertise to attending delegates. Initiatives and practices from the delegates, which currently take place within their home cities and cultural organisations, were also shared within the forum, creating an open space for suggestion and creativity.

All attendees were welcomed with a drinks reception and a Bengal drumming performance, before enjoying a formal dinner. Plenary and panel sessions were held in Leeds College of Music, whilst delegates were also given the opportunity to try the variety of cuisines available from the many street food vendors at Leeds Kirkgate Market for lunch, as well as multiple visits around the city centre. Some enjoyed Indian and Thai whilst others sampled Colombian and Jamaican!

Karen Murgatroyd, Head of International Relations at Leeds City Council commented: “We thoroughly enjoyed welcoming EUROCITIES to Leeds. By focusing on inclusivity through diversity, as well as Leeds’ rich history, we were able to showcase everything that the city has to offer and position it as a leader in creating cultural space. It also presented us with a fantastic opportunity to work closely with multiple organisations across the city and truly come together in support of a crucial cause. We look forward to witnessing the outcome of the forum across both Leeds and the delegates’ own home cities, and will continue in our drive to create a safe and inclusive space for all.”

Founded in 1986, EUROCITIES is the network of major European cities. Members are the elected local and municipal governments of major European cities. Today, they bring together the local governments of over 140 of Europe’s largest cities and across 45 partner cities, governing 130 million citizens across 39 countries.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Richard Savage .

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