Let’s Make 2023 Happen!

Let's Make 2023 Happen!

With less than two weeks to go before Leeds officially submits it’s European Capital of Culture 2023 Bid Book, its difficult not to start getting carried away with the possibilities, energy and benefits that this award would give us.

The excellently produced Bid Book doesn’t shy away from the challenges that this city faces, from inequality and infrastructure to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. But what it does do is face these challenges head on in a positive and holistic way, bringing together all the city’s talents.  

Let’s take a look at some of the proposals in the Bid Book to whet our appetite!

A lighthouse for Leeds – this has probably been the most eye-catching idea in the Bid Book. Based on Leeds civil engineer, John Smeaton’s Victorian lighthouses, it would be built near The Tetley, on Vastint’s site. We like the idiosyncrasy of a lighthouse in the middle of Yorkshire, and the traditional symbolism of a lighthouse as a beacon of hope shows the city as the compassionate and welcoming place that it is.  Could this be Leeds’ Angel of the North?      

I Predict a Riot – Imagine you’re 8 years old again and you’re asked to put together your very own mini Glastonbury? It would be like winning the entire toy bit of the Argos catalogue! In what can sometimes be an uninviting space for children and young people, we can use children’s first-hand experiences to transform the city center into a child friendly space. We promise to be good and not nag – can we come to?

Baby Trees – 10,000 trees, one for every child born in the city – yes please!

Yorkshire Sculpture International – with Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore learning their craft here in Leeds, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park only down the road, it seems an apt legacy to have a permanent base to fabricate sculpture in the city. As the Bid Book mentions, sometimes we don’t shout loud enough about our artistic and creative talents – this would cultivate an international reputation for Leeds and Yorkshire as a genuine sculpture hub.

Re-imagining Architecture – naturally, this is one for us Civic Trusters to get behind! A digital architectural repository sharing innovation and urban design ideas, based here in Leeds.

There are also a number of projects and works that benefit the often neglected neighbourhoods in the city. ELP will see a ‘major new visual art and public realm programme’ in 

east Leeds, including Gipton, Seacroft, Wyke Beck that works with the community. There’s also Land Grab, which will see beautiful living installations placed in neighbourhoods across Leeds – bringing attention to the effects of climate change.

Art and creative expression have well documented positive effects on happiness and our health and wellbeing. In times of worry and uncertainty, Leeds 2023 gives us an opportunity to come together to celebrate cooperation, diversity and to explore what makes us ‘Leodians’.

Let’s #MakeLeeds2023

Mel Roberts

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