Agenda item

Leeds 2023 Update

To consider an update report from the Chief Officer, Culture and Economy responding to previous areas of interest raised by Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board Members in March 2022 and highlighting the significant milestones and linked opportunities for Leeds that will arise from the Year of Culture in 2023. 



The Chief Officer, Culture and Economy presented a report on LEEDS 2023. This is the city’s Year of Culture, delivered by the Leeds Culture Trust, an independent charity set up in 2019 by Leeds City Council as part of its Culture Strategy and as a response to the cancellation of the UK’s participation in the European Capital of Culture competition.


This report provided progress made on LEEDS 2023 after feedback from the Board at its meeting held on 28th March 2022, the Scrutiny Board also received a presentation.


In attendance for this item were:

·  Cllr J Pryor – Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education

·  Eve Roodhouse – Chief Officer Culture and Economy

·  Karen Murgatroyd – Executive Manager – LEEDS 2023

·  Kully Thiarai – Creative Director and CEO LEEDS 2023

·  Abigail Scott Paul – Director of External Relations LEEDS 2023

·  Emma Beverley – Director of Programmes LEEDS 2023


An update was provided on the following areas:

·  Leadership and governance

·  Programme and ‘100 Days to Go’

·  Consultation and engagement with elected members

·  Public engagement

·  Evaluation and impact

·  Legacy

·  Grant agreement

·  Fundraising and sponsorship


In response to questions from Members the Board were provided with the following information:

  • 904 volunteers had already signed up of the 1000 volunteers required.
  • 1000 creation stations had been set up at various locations around Leeds to accept pieces of artwork to enable 7,500 people to receive a pair of free tickets to the ‘Awakening’ event to be held at Headingley Stadium in January 2023.
  • It was acknowledged that it had been difficult to get people to attend neighbourhood events and that not all elected members had been able to attend as the events had been at short notice. However, at the suggestion of the Members the team would look to hold an event in the Civic Hall before a forthcoming full Council meeting so that all Members could engage with the process and see the progress.
  • Members noted that the WYCA contribution to the fund was a separate pool of money provided by the West Yorkshire Mayor for culture. Members acknowledged the fundraising and sponsorship provided by corporate, trusts and foundation and education partners, highlighted at paragraph 32 of the submitted report. It was noted that a data link would be provided to Members.
  • The Neighbourhood Hosts had been in post for 3 weeks and were attending training sessions to assist them in their roles. This included introducing them to support and anchor organisations in the wards, development, teaching and resources. As part of the training Hosts would also learn about effective decision making and accountability.
  • It was recognised that there was not a guarantee that all children would be engaged with the process, but it was an aspiration that all children would engage in the events taking place. It was noted that more details of engagement with children and young people could be provided to Members.
  • It was noted that the hex map shown in the presentation was one of a number used by the team. The hex maps showed where more engagement was required to ensure more communities were involved in LEEDS 2023. Members were willing to assist with the engagement process but requested more information be given to the ward members including being provided with the other hex maps showing more detail on community engagement generally and in terms of volunteers and participants in the ballot.


  • Members were advised that the website had tools to assist with creating pieces of art and showed the locations of all the ‘creation stations’
  • The team offered to work with Members to engage with more people to access small grants, especially those groups who did not normally do these types of activities. The team recognised that there was still work to be done in relation to engaging with people who cannot or do not have access to the internet.
  • Members were advised that strong links had been made in gaining corporate funding. It was recognised that there was more work to be done in attracting more corporate funding and a trip was planned to London where some of the businesses had head offices. It was also noted that due to current financial issues and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic across the country corporate spend had been scaled back and that contributions could take the form of funding or more subtle contributions such as use of facilities or staffing.
  • Members were informed that more announcements and advertising of LEEDS 2023 will be going ahead, and these will include information in multiple languages, a piece in the Yorkshire Evening Post and in collaboration with libraries, leisure centres and hubs. 


At this point in the meeting Cllr Chapman disclosed an interest as she on the board of CROWN who are one of the anchor organisations.


Members comments included:

  • Concern that there had not been enough engagement within the wards or with ward members.
  • A promotion of the progress and the engagement should be brought to the Civic Hall before a meeting of the full Council, to allow all Members to engage with the process.
  • All Members needed to know who the Neighbourhood Hosts were as they would be key contacts for Councillors.
  • The grants process needed to be fair and include both small and large organisations.


Cllr Pryor said that this would be a big impact for the city and hit all parts of the city not just the centre. He encouraged Members to meet and support their Neighbourhood Hosts, saying this needs to be a partnership and to maximise opportunity for the city. He wished LEEDS 2023 good luck.




a)  To note and provide comments on the information provided in the submitted report and the progress made.


b)  The Principal Scrutiny Advisor will circulate further information on community engagement and how the My Leeds grant funding will work to Board members following the meeting.


c)  Further engagement to be undertaken with elected members based around a future full Council meeting.



Supporting documents: