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European Capital of Culture is an opportunity like no other, with Leeds as our canvas.

For 365 days Leeds will be an international stage, concert hall, gallery, laboratory, and centre of creation. We will explore the issues of our time and find new ways of imagining and interpreting life in a diverse, complex and modern European city.

We will challenge the norm, break barriers, cross boundaries and reach out across the city to draw on the ideas and identities that makes Leeds so very… Leeds.

We will weave the fibres of the city to reject the bland, create spaces for all voices to be heard and be listened to, and acknowledge fears and hopes. We will work towards creating an equal, united and confident city that breaks the mould and provides a new blueprint for modern life.

Our city stands for the free movement of ideas. Consider this your call to arms, and the start of a new journey for Leeds.

We are starting by spending a month, until the 28th March, seeking ideas for an ambitious, exciting, astonishing, diverse and experimental programme to bring the bid to life.


Our Programme Themes

We have consulted people across the city and have identified four programme themes for you to respond to. The themes are here to be interrogated and interpreted, broken and built back up again.


The city’s history of wool, textiles and clothing manufacture offers us a rich metaphor. Leeds 2023 will explore the very fibre and fabric of citizenship in a modern European city and consider how culture can knit together cities of inequality.

Fear & Belonging

There are many sources of fear in any society. War, economic uncertainty, hopelessness, and challenges to citizenship and identity in Europe have fuelled new levels of anxiety and unhappiness. To understand the mental health of cities we aim to use culture to create a sense of belonging – and to tackle fear by recognising it and exploring how we can live through it.


The voice of a city is heard in its words, music and thoughts but also in its movement, visual arts and architecture. Leeds’ voice will take many forms and languages. Voice will help us to celebrate the many cultures of Leeds – to retrieve our cultural past, celebrate our cultural present and imagine our cultural future. The theme will explore the role of artists as a voice in Europe. Voice will embrace the role of communities as the new engines of place making, pride and identity.


Leeds is a creative laboratory – a physical and virtual space within Europe. Our city is a place that gives people room to learn, room to grow and room to express themselves on a local and European stage. We will look at how ideas, movements and inspirational thinkers continue to influence cities, incubate talent and drive change.

Express Your Interest

Our official call for ideas is now complete, but if you have anything you’d like to share, or want more information, you can get in touch with our programme team on the email address below. We’d love to hear from you.

Artistic Programme

Programme Team Contact Details

Emma Beverley

Jenny Harris

Matt Burman