Why Leeds deserves to be Capital of Culture 2023 as fresh pressure piled on government

Leeds 2023
Leeds 2023
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Fresh pressure is being piled on the government to select a UK Capital of Culture in 2023 in spite of the EU decision not to allow UK cities to enter following the Brexit vote.

The Sunday Times has today called for a British winner to be crowned Capital of Culture 2023, putting aside the political wrangling over Brexit.

So why should Leeds win? The plans for Leeds' Capital of Culture Bid in full:

The construction of a giant lighthouse, a festival curated and run entirely by children under 15 and measures to transform parts of the city centre’s most iconic square are among just a handful of projects revealed by the team behind the bid to make Leeds European Capital of Culture in 2023.

The Lighthouse project

This would see a full-sized and working lighthouse built in a newly-created park in the South Bank area. It would host live events and music in the summer and light installations in the winter and be accessible to everyone, with a working light shining out across the city.

The lighthouse is also a nod to the city’s great civil engineer John Smeaton, whose designs for lighthouses are used across the world and were inspired by the shape of trees he grew up around in East Leeds in the 1700s.

I Predict A Riot

Another plan is for a festival called I Predict A Riot, named after the hit from Leeds’s Kaiser Chiefs, which will be planned, curated and produced entirely by to 15 year olds.

Attack, art project

An art project called Attack will be staged and is designed to bring together various housing estates from around Leeds.

Unveiling the plan at the Hyde Park Picture House, the team pledged to deliver a year-long programme which would involve people from the whole of the city, with plans for events in each of Leeds’s 33 council wards.

Built on the theme of Weaving Us Together, a nod to the city’s past as a textile epicentre, it is designed by organisers as a statement of intent to bring the entire city together as one.

Leeds City Council Leader, Judith Blake, said when plans were revealed in October “We promised that this would be a bid for the whole city and we intend to deliver on that promise, Culture can weave us together, celebrating our differences and tackling difficult issues that we face together as a city.

“The city’s bid for the title will create a lasting legacy for Leeds, embracing equality and tackling the disconnection of a two-tier city. Under the theme ‘Weaving Us Together’, Leeds 2023 will see activity across all 33 wards; we want to see people from across the city actively engaged, particularly those who might not think the arts is for them.”

How much did the bid cost?

Leeds Council spent £155,000 on the bid, with a further £650,000 spent by the private sector.

But the city's bid was shot down last month after the EU Commission said it UK cities would no longer be eligible for the title once Britain has exited the EU.

In the latest inquest carried out in the fallout of that decision, Leeds City Council's Scrutiny Board (Inclusive Growth, Culture and Sport) discussed the progress being made to salvage the bid. The meeting was told it it is "unlikely" that the eligibility decision will be reversed by the EU.