Leeds: A City of Culture
This week is Culture Week – a themed week of activity organised by the Government’s Northern Powerhouse team to celebrate the amazing cultural offering of the North. At Leeds Business Improvement District we take pride in leading on projects which enhance the city’s cultural offer, celebrate our cities vibrancy and showcase our creative capability. For that reason, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to show our support for Culture Week.
As a hotbed of culture, Leeds is bursting with art exhibitions, theatres and world-famous music events. Today, there are few turns you can take in this city that do not lead to music, creativity, or artisanal activity.
In recent years, Culture has become a buzz word in Leeds. Since launching in 2015, in our role as Leeds Business Improvement District (LeedsBID) we have led on and provided key investment to many innovative projects across the city. Our main objective is to make Leeds city centre a cleaner, safer and more welcoming place to live to and visit. We are raising the city’s profile on a global scale by implementing new, diverse and prestigious events and exciting marketing campaigns. Place-making or simply making a place better is at the core of what we do, and our vibrant and diverse communities and booming cultural institutions are at the centre of our vision.
The city of Leeds is viewed as being a leader in art and cultural education. In fact, with prestigious institutions such as the newly renamed Leeds Arts University and Leeds College of Music, the city trains more artists than anywhere in the UK outside of London. Widely recognised as the place where a new generation of artists and cultural producers will emerge, the city has not only already produced notable music acts such as the Kaiser Chiefs and the Grammy award-winning Corinne Bailey Rae, but is also home to an array of world-class musical venues and events.
2017 has been a fantastic year for music in Leeds. The thriving city has hosted the ARIAS (The Audio and Radio Industry Awards), Leeds International Festival and the MOBO Awards, raising the city’s reputation for hosting major events whilst helping maximise investment and footfall.
Launched in November 2016, A City Less Grey is a project to animate the streets of Leeds with public art installations, bringing colour to key areas of the city centre while showcasing homegrown artistic talent and enhancing the city’s cultural offer. The citywide street art project saw the creation of the UK’s tallest piece of street art - ‘Athena Rising’, an ambitious and bold mural by Nomad Clan which animates the full east elevation of the new Platform building at Leeds Station. The 137ft mural is visible from station platforms and beyond, making a huge statement on the Leeds city centre skyline.
This is an exhilarating time for urban art in Leeds and it is important that our city commits to creating spaces and opportunities for street art to be part of everyday life. By injecting colour into key sites around in the city, enhancing the look and feel of areas for residents, commuters and visitors alike, A City Less Grey is about utilising the assets Leeds has, adding to the unique experience of the city for all who use it. It’s these initiatives which help strengthen Leeds’ cultural standing, with the city recently referred to as the capital city of street art by the Sunday Times.
Looking back over the year, I am very proud of what LeedsBID has achieved in 2017. We have provided the people of Leeds with fantastic experiences and events, showcasing the best of what Leeds has to offer and bringing together people and businesses to celebrate our city. There is still more to do and we have lots of exciting projects in the pipeline which will help strengthen Leeds’ position as a standout city. I look towards 2018 with confidence, a year which promises great things for the city.