Call for volunteers for Leeds’ Capital of Culture bid

Council leaders in Leeds have issued an appeal for volunteers to help shape the city’s bid to be named European Capital of Culture 2023.

Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds Council.

Leeds City Council is now inviting expressions of interest from people across the city who could be part of the steering group that will be instrumental in putting the all-important bid together.

The group will be responsible for agreeing the vision, focus and themes of the bid before it is submitted to the judging panel in December 2017.

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The search marks the first major milestone in the city’s journey which could culminate in a year of events showcasing the best of Leeds’ cultural and creative offerings.

Leader of the council, Coun Judith Blake said: “Leeds is a fabulous city with incredible architecture surrounded by incredible countryside. This is a real opportunity to showcase the physical strengths of Leeds but also to really demonstrate the character of Leeds - what makes Leeds Leeds. The people who live here, the extraordinary diversity and how we can come together to work to put on a phenomenal showcasing of everything that is special about the city.”

Applications are open for seven positions on the steering group - including the independent chair - with more places also available on sub-groups.

Each sub-group will focus on separate areas including cultural programming, marketing and communications, finance and fundraising, European partnerships and community engagement.

Coun Blake said it’s an open request. She said: “This is one of the most exciting opportunities for people in Leeds to get involved. We’ve demonstrated already that when we involve people out there in an event acting as ambassadors for us - like the Tour de France - we end up with a very strong offer that makes the difference.” With an estimated cost of £14m to host European Capital of Culture 2023 - but with the economic benefit set to reach the hundreds of millions - key players and institutions across the city are also being urged get behind the bid and help reach the funding total.

The University of Leeds has already pledged £75k a year to support the bid process, but much more is needed. Coun Blake said: “We’re obviously looking to shape up the funding and support from businesses here in the city who recognise what an extraordinary contribution it will make, not only for the actual year when we have Capital of culture, but the lasting benefit to the city.”

She added: “There aren’t many opportunities where a UK city has a chance of winning the bid. If we don’t achieve it this time, it’s a 15-year wait before we can even consider putting another bid in. It’s a big opportunity for us to seize the moment.”

The deadline to express an interest in being part of the steering or sub groups is July 31. Apply at: Visit

The city submit its final bid for European Capital of Culture 2023 by December 2017.