Hello, my name is Ruth Pitt and I couldn’t be happier writing this short update for the first time as Chair of Leeds 2023. The year ahead looks very exciting!
We are currently advertising for a Creative Director to devise and guide our vision through the next five years of events, exhibitions, performances and festivities. We hope to appoint by spring this year.
We are also currently assembling a small core of trustees, with board membership to be completed later in the year when our direction of travel is finalised. We’re evaluating our admin and support needs and our staff will be skeleton until our plans are firmed up, at which point we will move into modest office space.
And we are already starting to receive and develop ambitious ideas from just about every cultural genre under the sun. There’s a great conjunction of planets afoot and we are definitely ready for the challenge ahead.
Leeds’ cultural profile is rich, creative and diverse. With the city’s ambitious 2017-2030 Cultural Strategy now in place and a remarkable package of support from the public and private sectors making Leeds 2023 possible, the stage is set.
Our city’s population is the third largest in the UK and it is growing in confidence. Its profile is already boosted by extraordinarily unifying events like Light Night, the Tour de Yorkshire and Leeds West Indian Carnival, not to mention the huge pride we feel in our sporting stars and famous faces across all aspects of cultural life.
Channel 4 is bringing its national headquarters to Leeds and putting our city on the media map in ways we’ve never experienced before. Our colleges and universities are delivering global talent and innovation. New businesses are setting up and settling in our region daily.
But we know we can do more to improve the lives of our citizens by opening up wider opportunities across the city and giving everyone a chance to tell their story, to express their hopes and dreams along with their fears and frustrations and to be inspired by amazing arts and culture both locally and from right across the globe.
Leeds 2023 has to work for everyone, so we will continue to speak with citizens and communities from around the city. And we’re talking to our fantastic arts institutions and there’s a powerful collective will to collaborate across all disciplines from dance and music to theatre, art, writing, media and sport.
As I write at the start of 2019, with our relationship to the rest of the world still undecided, we know we are making plans at a time of great uncertainty. All the more reason to be bold, confident and ambitious. The more we might struggle to be heard, the more art and culture can help us find a voice. The more our communities may seem divided, the more creative activities can bring us together and help us understand one another better.
The nights may still be long but there’s a spring in our step.