The Leeds 2023 Year of Culture is ready to launch with a star-studded opening event.
The launch of Leeds 2023 Year of Culture will kick start the year on a high as the creativity and imagination of the city’s acclaimed artists and cultural organisations across all of its 33 wards is thrown into the spotlight.
Run by the Leeds Culture Trust, the year- long celebration is a first for the city, with hundreds of events and activities taking place to showcase the rich and diverse cultural life of Leeds and its communities.
The event is also a response to the cancellation of the UK’s participation in the 2017 European Capital of Culture competition, with support from local businesses, educational institutions, and public and private sector funders to “do it anyway.”
As the programme unravels across the year, it’s focus will narrow on the diverse communities which shape Leeds, with passionate neighbourhood hosts collaborating alongside businesses, community groups, and residents to explore the stories and culture within their ward and celebrate what makes their area special.
“Whether it’s the arts, performance, baking, or sport, there’s a huge range of activities which can represent culture which are open for everyone,” says Roundhay Neighbourhood Host, Nick Wayne.
“Roundhay is fortunate to hold national geographical places of interest and a tremendous arts and culture vibe across the area. But there are still parts which are not always represented in the mainstream activities which happen each year.
“Enhancing these events with the presence of Leeds 2023 will be a great way to represent each community that shapes the area. We are all excited as hosts to represent each ward properly and do our community proud.
“Getting every possible resident involved to have their say in what will be included in the full programme will make sure they can be involved in the activities and legacy of Leeds 2023 for years to come.”
Leeds 2023’s opening show, The Awakening, is set to demonstrate what the programme’s mantra of “letting culture loose” is all about at Headingley Stadium on 7th January.
Hosted by Leeds-born sports broadcaster Gabby Logan MBE alongside former Leeds United footballer Sanchez Payne, the show will bring together the latest work from the city’s famous and familiar artists in unique pairings and collaborations.
Performers range from singer songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, rapper and former Leeds United footballer Graft, and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage alongside his indie band LYR.
The orchestra and chorus of Opera North will also take to the stage to perform surprising and dynamic renditions of familiar pop hits, celebrating its position as the only ensemble in the country to hold
a dual role in the opera house and concert hall.
Amid all the entertainment, the show will also display thousands of art pieces submitted by the public which are already showing off the creativity of Leeds’ residents. Demonstrating Leeds 2023’s aim to engage with the city’s diverse communities, the project reflects the organiser’s belief that there is artistic talent to be found from everyone who wants to empower the full year’s programme.
“The Awakening is only possible if everyone shares their individual act of creativity whatever that might be for them,” said Chief Executive and Creative Director, Kully Thiarai. “By the end of Leeds 2023, what we know about Leeds will be different and surprising.
“So please come and help make this new story with us.”
You can get free tickets by creating an artwork and entering the ballot. Keep up to date with Leeds 2023, and find out how to take part in the full programme, visit Leeds2023.co.uk