Kay Mellor claims Leeds is "in her blood" as she becomes a patron of a year-long festival of arts and culture in the city

One of the country’s leading screenwriters has become a patron of a year-long festival celebrating the arts and heritage in Leeds and claimed that the city  “runs through her blood” and has helped inspire her stellar career.

Television screenwriter Kay Mellor has been announced as a patron of Leeds 2023, a year-long celebration of arts and culture in the West Yorkshire city. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
Television screenwriter Kay Mellor has been announced as a patron of Leeds 2023, a year-long celebration of arts and culture in the West Yorkshire city. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Kay Mellor has given her backing to the plans for Leeds 2023, which is the first large-scale event of its kind in the Leeds city region and is hoped to bring a multi-million pound boost to the economy.

Ms Mellor has been responsible for some of the most well-loved British television drama of the last 25 years including Band Of Gold, Fat Friends, In The Club and The Syndicate.

She said: “I am so delighted to be a patron of Leeds 2023. This city and its people run through my blood and inspire me every day.

“I am proud to support the 2023 team and champion the local talent that’s emerging from all corners of our wonderfully diverse city.”

Ms Mellor, who was born in the West Yorkshire city and is also a patron of Leeds Playhouse, has become the latest high-profile figure to given their support to major cultural event.

Internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, Simon Rix, the bassist with Kaiser Chiefs, and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage have all also become patrons on the festival.

The creative director and chief executive of LEEDS 2023, Kully Thiarai, said: “We are incredibly excited that Kay Mellor has joined us as a patron. Her commitment to supporting new talent chimes closely with our plans for Leeds 2023.

“For many years Kay has brought a distinctive voice to her work across stage and screen, regularly incorporating northern, and of course Yorkshire, communities into her writing and performances.”

The plans for the festival emerged after Leeds Council had originally applied for the city to become European Capital of Culture in 2023, but the European Commission said it would not be eligible after Brexit.

Ms Thiarai has claimed that the landmark event will help create a “powerhouse of culture” across the North of England, with Bradford also currently bidding to become the UK City of Culture in 2025, a title which was secured by Hull four years ago.

Meanwhile, Kirklees has announced that it will stage a year of music during 2023 to tie in with Leeds’ own festival, and Calderdale is aiming to stage its own year of culture in 2024.

Independent research published in May found that the year-long cultural festival in Leeds is set to boost the local economy by £140m and create more than 1,620 new jobs by 2030.

The report, compiled by BOP Consulting, found Leeds can expect to see the number of visitors rise by 10 per cent in 2023, but without the £35m cultural festival, it would increase by just four per cent.

The plans for the festival include 12 showpiece cultural events which will run throughout the year of culture in Leeds.

However, the Leeds Culture Trust, which is the charity behind Leeds 2023, is also aiming to engage with communities with grassroots arts and culture.

Projects include two new sculptures to be sited in the community, a roaming photography studio capturing photos of the people of Leeds, and a special day-long broadcast from an independent radio station, Sable Radio.