Charity-led Leeds 2023 culture festival could 'make city a global player after Brexit'

A charity is set to run a £35m arts and events programme with the ambition of Leeds becoming 'globally recognised as a home for world class culture' following Brexit.

Leeds City Council decision-makers will consider a plan to give Leeds Culture Trust (LCT) - set up to support an ill-fated plan to become European Capital of Culture 2023 - the freedom to design the “international arts festival”.

The council previously revealed that it would go ahead with its own Leeds 2023 extravaganza without European Union backing after the European Commission’s shock announcement in November that UK cities would not be in contention for the continental title post-Brexit.

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Joe Taylor and Dreda Blow previewing Northern Ballet's production of Casanova at a launch event to Leeds business leaders backing the doomed Leeds 2023 European City of Culture bid.

The council is due to offer support for the Leeds Culture Trust to secure charitable status and recruit a chair and full board of trustees to be in place by early 2019, with a suggestion it takes forward the plans to raise funds for delivering the £35m programme over the next five years, culminating in 2023.

In her report, council programme manager Dinah Clark wrote: “If Leeds 2023 is the show then the city is its stage.

“In the coming months and years the social and physical infrastructure of the city will change, with some of those changes such as the development of the creative industries, and transformation of our public spaces essential components of the year of celebration, and its legacy.”

After taking specialist legal and financial advice, the 2023 Independent Steering Group has recommended the council continues with the proposal that LCT takes control of the plan, albeit with reference to the authority’s overall vision. If approved by the board, LCT would lead the artistic programme, handle all the national and international marketing and “seek a permanent legacy”, the report reads.

A musician with South Asian Arts performing at a Leeds 2023 bid event.

Events will be based on two guiding principles, “Whole City” - celebrating its diversity and involving citizens who “remain unengaged” – and “International”.

The report continues: “The International ambition is for Leeds to be globally recognised as a home for world class culture.

“Leeds will be a global player with strong and constructive relationships with organisations and businesses in Europe and across the world, bringing jobs, skills and economic growth to the city and region and becoming an exemplar of a UK city beyond Brexit.

Members of the Punjabi Roots Academy welcome guests to the What next for Leeds 2023? event at Leeds Town Hall in January.

“Leeds will showcase world-class culture and events whilst remaining synonymous with innovation and creativity. Leeds 2023 will help transform Leeds’ identity and how we operate in a new global context post-brexit”

Around 700 people attended a meeting at Leeds Town Hall in January as city leaders revealed a plan to go ahead with its own 2023 events. Before the European bid was cancelled for Leeds, £750,000 has been spent by private and public sector partners.