The cultural heavyweights who will head up Leeds’ bid for European Capital of Culture 2023

Check out the full list of members of Leeds’s European Capital of Culture 2023 steering group.

Leeds city centre skyline
Leeds city centre skyline

Sharon Watson- Independent chairwoman

Artistic director of Phoenix Dance Theatre

In 2010, she was named one of Cultural Leadership Programme’s Women to Watch and in 2013, she was nominated for the prestigious h.Club100 search for the UK’s most influential people working in the creative industries.

She is trustee of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, The Place, West Yorkshire Playhouse, and an artistic advisor for Central School of Ballet and Leeds Inspired.

James Brining – Artistic subgroup chairman

Artistic director/joint chief executive of West Yorkshire Playhouse

At the Playhouse, he has directed The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, The Crucible, Enjoy, Talking Heads and Sweeney Todd.

Born and brought up in Leeds, he has also previously been artistic director/chief executive of Dundee Rep Theatre and chairman of the Federation of Scottish Theatre.

Anita Morris – Communications and marketing subgroup chair

Managing director of PR agency Anita Morris Associates.

She was previously marketing director of Arts Council initiative Photo98 – the UK Year of Photography & the Electronic Image, after four years as head of PR and marketing at Opera North.

Nicola Greenan – Engagement subgroup chair

Director of East Streets Arts, a visual arts organisation which stretches across the UK and Europe.

Raised in Seacroft, she was also one of the original founders of the LS14 Trust - a not-for-profit organisation owned and led by the community of Leeds 14, with ambitions to revitalise Seacroft.

She is also chairwoman of Leeds Music Trust.

Godfrey Worsdale – Finance sub group chair

Director of The Henry Moore Foundation.

He was previously director of the BALTIC centre for art Gateshead.

He has also chaired the Visual Art and Galleries Association, was former chairman of the Contemporary Visual Art Network, a patron of Crisis Commission, at trustee of the Northern Canon Art Collection and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Anamaria Wills – European subgroup chair

CEO, executive director, and founder of creativity and innovation agency CidaCo.

She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is also chairwoman of Balbir Singh Dance Company, on the board of the new White Rose College of Arts and Humanities and is co-founder and director of ASK-CIDA, Trinidad, working to develop the creative industries across the Caribbean.

Frank Finlay

Professor of German language and literature at the University of Leeds, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and a member of the University Executive Group.

He has also served as president of the Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland.

Prof Mohammad Dastbaz

Pro vice chancellor and dean of the Faculty of the Arts, Environment and Technology, at Leeds Beckett University.

He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Higher Education Academy and the British Computer Society.

Selina Thompson

Artist and performer based in Leeds.

Her work has featured in galleries and theatres, including Spill Festival of Performance, The National Theatre Studio, The Birmingham REP, East Street Arts and the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Over the past couple of years she’s been developing a body of works called ‘Edible Women’, which saw her make a theatre show, build a dress out of cake, and time listening to people confess their food sins,

Karen Sewell

Partner at law firm Addleshaw Goddard LLP, where she specialises in banking and corporate finance is also acting head of the firm’s graduate recruitment activities in Leeds.

Kenneth Tindall

Professional choreographer

Earlier this year, he retired as principal dancer with Northern Ballet after 14 years with the company.

He set up as a freelance choreographer in 2011 and has already worked with producers, fashion designers and companies including Northern Ballet, English National Ballet, The museum of Modern Art Paris, Tate St Ives and the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery.

He won the Production Prize at the 26th International Choreographic Competition in Hannover in 2012 with his choreographic debut ‘Project #1’.

Councillor Judith Blake (Lab)

Leader of Leeds City Council, executive board member for Economy and Culture and ward councillor for Middleton Park.

She was also previously deputy leader of the council for five years.

She is also on the boards for Belle Isle Winter Aid, Health For All, BITMO, and is a governor at Westwood Primary School.

Councillor Dan Cohen (Cons)

Ward councillor for Alwoodley, where he was born and raised, since 2011.

He is also a solicitor and managing director of Madison Hosiery Limited. He is also co-founder of the Cohen Foundation, a charitable foundation that has given out over half a million pounds in grants over the past 10 years to worthy causes. He helped found and is now chair of governors at Leeds Jewish Free School. He is also an LEA governor at Allerton High School.

He sits on the Outer North East Community Committee and on the scrutiny boards for City Development and Strategy and Resources.

Councillor Stewart Golton (Lib Dem)

Ward councillor for Rothwell and leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Leeds City Council. He has been a councillor since 1998 and is currently on the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board.

He is also a member of the Health and Wellbeing Board in Leeds and has previously been executive portfolio holder for Children’s Services as well as chairman of the board for Leeds Bradford International Airport.