Arts Diary: Will Marriott

Saturday afternoon and queues littered the pavements around Quarry Hill in Leeds, a palpable frisson of excitement ripping through the expectant crowd.

No, there wasn't a red carpet in view, and there were no limos decanting starlets. This fuss and sense of anticipation was for the fact that, after a few days of more private events to mark the unveiling of their new building, Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance held an open day for the public to inspect what had been talked about (and fundraised for) for so long. And how the public flocked – for workshops and performances that showcased the wonderful work of dancers of many different ages and levels, with brilliant choreography throughout, and culminating in stunning pieces performed by remarkable professionals.

While every seat was full for each performance, some visitors hung around afterwards simply to enjoy the building, leaning over the glass walls of the balconies on floors above the atrium area to people watch the hundreds of visitors milling about below. The interest shown on Saturday, both in the work of the companies and in this new feature of the Leeds skyline, hopefully augurs well for the kind of wide public support they can expect from now on.

Choirs – a hateful reminder of schooldays? Not for Alex Belfield, who is hoping to attract new members for a pop choir he is setting up. The choir is open to everyone, regardless of age, ability or musical experience. Alex says, "Singing should always be fun. The songs we sing will be professional arrangements of rock, pop, gospel and show tunes, usually sung in three-part harmony."

Alex is an accomplished keyboard player and was previously the leader of Sing It Together and the St Anthony's Choir in Nottingham.

His new choir, part of the Choir Nation group of choirs across the north of England, will meet at the Methodist Mission, next to the Town Hall in the centre of Leeds, on Mondays 7.30- 9.00pm, starting in early February. For more information, visit www.choirnation.co.uk

A GREAT start to the year for Sheffield City Hall, with several shows getting the box office Sold Out status. The Saturdays, Alexandra Burke, The Wanted and Olly Murs have all reached sell out. Illusionist extraordinaire, Derren Brown has once again sold out both his nights this May, having sold out two nights last year, while James Blunt and Paul Rodgers are also currently unavailable.

There is a chance a small amount tickets may be released for these events nearer the show dates and customers are advised to check with box office nearer the time.

Delighted that local boy and friend of the Arts Diary Tom Bidwell had his short film Wish 143 shortlisted for

an Oscar.

We hoped to bring you an interview, but on the day of the announcement Tom was in a Casualty planning meeting all day (Tom is one of the core writers). Which we think is a first for an Oscar nominee.