Leeds leads again with another fabulous event in the city. We sit down with the Director of Leeds International Festival of Ideas to find out what the legacy of the festival will be.
Having gone from strength to strength since its conception in 2017, Leeds International Festival of Ideas (LIFI) recently took over the West Yorkshire Playhouse for yet another packed three days of talks, panel discussions, and Q&As. Special highlights included a sold-out talk by Steven Bartlett, discussing outdated work practices, Ruby Wax chatting all things mindfulness and her personal journey, and Christopher Eccleston talking working class access to the arts industry.
Festival Director, Martin Dickson, told us about the hit event: “The festival is the creation of Leeds BID, the Business Improvement District. Our job is to bring more people to Leeds. There is a tangible and intangible aspect to our work, and when we get it right, it’s a beautiful thing. For example, something like the Leeds Jurassic Trail, which we did last summer. We put dinosaurs in the city centre, and that drew more people into the city centre, to spend money and buy coffees. That’s the tangible part of it. The other aspect of it, the intangible part, is place marketing. Talking about the place that Leeds is, more boldly, more bravely, and with more excitement.”
One of the aims of LIFI is to promote everything that Leeds has to offer to the rest of the country: “The big delivery to the promotion of Leeds, and what better way to do that than through an amazingly unique festival, which had 39 speakers, many of whom will talk about this experience to their agents and each other, and so the word in ‘that London’ will spread.”
Martin is also hoping that the festival will have a social effect as well, challenging people’s ideas: “In the planning stage we come up with the topics we want the festival to cover, and they’re literally what we think is important at the moment and what we’re all talking about. Curiosity, Conversation, and Connection is one strap line that we have. One thing we’re particularly keen on at LIFI is that we see a lot of difference in our world at the moment, sadly – a lot of bigotry and unpleasantness between people. What we’ve tried to do is bring different types of people together, purposefully, from across the city, and put them in front of conversations that themselves might educate people a little differently.”
The hope is that the attendees will carry the lessons they’ve learnt from the festival, back into their everyday lives: “We hope that socially, when people leave these events, they go back into the world with just a slightly different view of something: maybe more positively, or just better informed. And then we ask people to just make a little bit of a difference in their part of the world.”