Nick Ahad: Art enriches our lives so let’s enjoy the range of culture in our region

A couple of weeks ago I wrote the pantomime preview for the Yorkshire Post and Evening Post

and confessed that I couldn’t think of an original way to introduce such a feature. I have written similar features for both newspapers since 2001: you can see why I struggle to find a new way of writing about the annual event. The pantomime doesn’t really change (that’s kind of the point) – ergo the reporting of it remains similarly... similar.

In the same vein, around this time of year I have in the past written columns about the importance of the arts and, while it’s a drum I have beaten previously, it is a drum I am going to beat again now.

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As we see in the new year, there is a new optimism, a new hope in the air. I am already looking forward to some of the theatre shows I’ll be reviewing for the Yorkshire Post over the coming months but for me one of the things that makes 2015 such a culturally exciting prospect is the success of 2014.

Who would have predicted the enormous success of last year for our county? Honestly? Not me.

As a Tour de France sceptic, if not quite a cynic, I had no idea the event would create such an atmosphere in our corner of this green and pleasant land.

What I also hadn’t quite anticipated was what it would mean for us culturally. The Tour de France was embraced by people who had very little interest in cycling. Some of those people will possibly never engage in cycling again, some will return to their bikes occasionally and others will become real enthusiasts. The numbers of people falling into each of those categories really doesn’t matter – the point is there are some in each one.

In the same way, the cultural events that happened around the Tour de France, I believe, will have created a group of people across the county who engaged in culture perhaps for the first time.

The Yorkshire Festival was a 100-day-long cultural celebration that accompanied the Tour – some of the events that really captured the imagination included the Ghost Peloton in Leeds and the spectacular Luce in Dewsbury. The arts world needs to capitalise in the next 12 months on those whose interest in culture was piqued during the Yorkshire Festival – and there were many.

I say it regularly, but it’s true – culture is so important to our lives. If that means spending hours at an exhibition at Sheffield Millennium Galleries, listening to a concert at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, watching an outdoor theatre performance at Bradford’s Lister Park or watching a film at Hyde Park Picture House, culture, art, makes our lives worth living. We are so incredibly blessed in our county to have so much we can choose to engage with culturally – make sure that you make the most of that in the coming year.

There is plenty – at all of the region’s theatres – that is worth watching. Happy New Year.