• Text size
  • A
  • A
  • A


Your voice

Make your mark on the Leeds 2023 bid for European Capital of Culture

We want Leeds to be a city where we all have a voice. A community where we can share what excites us while also talking openly about our hopes and fears. A city that’s aware of its place in the world. Now is our chance. Now is our time to realise our wildest dreams.

This is your opportunity to have your say on the cultural future of our city. If Leeds is crowned European Capital of Culture in 2023, we will undertake a year-long programme of artistic events, large and small, across the city, and we want your ideas.

Have your say

In person

Over the coming weeks, the Leeds 2023 team will be out and about in venues across the city, watch this space for dates, times and venues  where you will be able to pop in and talk to the team.

By post

Pick up a postcard from venues across the city, add your thoughts, then pop it in the post back to us.

On social media

Our social media feeds are available everyday to get in touch with us and let us know your thoughts, dreams, ideas and feedback.

Join the conversation using #Leeds2023


Let us know your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. This is great! I did Classics in Leeds and the Classical influences across the city are vast 🙂 And on Leeds Light Night there’s always something classical being run. x

  2. Leeds Chinese Community Association will fully support this bid.

  3. Hi why not have a day like Kings day in amsterdam.Thousands of people on the streets with bands and stalls its an amazing day.It is some thing that Leeds can make a yearly event.

  4. London do a weekly magazine called ‘time out’ where people publish their events and businesses do their promotions etc. Would it be possible the Leeds 2023 team could start something similar? I think Leeds is lacking this kind of material, other than there being Leeds list, which is only available online. A weekly newspaper given out on the streets and available like the metro is on buses/trains would be great! You could charge for advertising which would cover the costs and then allow for charities to advertise for free. This might already be an idea in the pipeline but hopefully it is workable! It is something that could also drum up support leading up to 2023.

  5. 3 ideas to throw into the pot….

    1. Do something dramatic with Victoria Gardens that reclaims it as an inviting public space that reflects its name (a lot of people when I’ve mentioned Victoria Gardens say where, and then – but that’s not a garden!)…more greenery to make parts into a garden (like the beautiful mandela garden near millennium square?) – and painting a mural on the floor on a large scale like I’ve seen in Denmark with paint like the grand tour yellow block you did nearby. Transform spaces into bright and vibrant places where people want to be and stay…

    2. Arts & Minds culture club are planning some collaboration with Artlink in Hull, and are going on a few trips there to see how they’re doing capital of culture, like mystery cultural shoppers! Maybe Leeds people could be recruited to be ‘Mystery cultural shoppers’ – ie. go and see and review what they’d like to see similar in Leeds.

    3. Pinch this ideas from Hull! …
    ‘Are you proud of where you live? If an alien suddenly knocked at your door, what local sights or journeys would you recommend? This week Visit Hull and East Yorkshire (VHEY) are inviting you to become a local tourist and put yourself in the shoes of a city wanderer with their challenge. Think about somewhere in your city, town or village that you would be proud to tell a vistor or tourist about. Draw, photograph or write about this place and share it with someone.

  6. Hi,

    I am part of a Bollywood themed dance academy with its base in Leeds. We are made up of a number of individuals varying in age and background, with years of dance experience between us.
    We would love to get involved with something so exciting in our home town! Please let me know if you would like any further information about us and also please let me know how we can be involved.
    Kind regards,


  7. Hi Team Leeds 2023,
    I am EU citizen living and working in Leeds area for last 10 years. I love to see how Leeds changed visually and grow culturally over last few years and I would be thrilled to be part of future cultural development of the city and your project.
    I have to admit, I do not have excessive experience in this this filed, however I consider myself creative, passionate about art and culture as well as dedicated and task oriented person. If there is anything either big or small, I could help your team out, I am here to help.
    Regarding suggestions and ideas. In my personal opinion events like this are more about creating the opportunities to promote the city and the region as well as promoting culture and making it more accessible to everyone.
    This is quick list of my few suggestions:
    1. Open air / street theater and street light festival or events including street fashion runaway in major city squares maybe in places like YSP, with help of their team and local theater groups and fashion schools. As I believe this would be the good opportunity for promotion of the places and organizations.
    2. Visual art/ street art event with local, nationwide and European artists. I truly believe this is the great of showing city ethnic diversity and city history. This can be great way of promoting the city on global scale.
    3. Music festival – by reading some o the comments I notice need for Jazz festival in city and I believe this would be the great way of celebrating Jazz history in Leeds, as well as city contribution in Jazz culture in UK. this is right way to go as currently city itself have few pop/rock music events including Leeds Festival.
    To sum up, if you looking for any one to help please contact me.
    Thank you


  8. Thanks for your response Leanne.

    All understood – someone has to take a lead and given the imminent deadline I have a few other thoughts for consideration.
    The process in my view, is as important if not more important than the end product. The current end product being the wonderful list of cultural events already planned for 2023. My concern is that whilst it is important to enter any competition with a view to win, in this context, Leeds should adopt the view that win or lose we are committed to the process and the potential benefits. I assume that the events already planned and hopefully to be planned will still take place and sponsors will not withdraw funding and the participants disbanded should the hurdles not be cleared between now and 2023. The feedback from current and previous successful ECoC bids is clear, the process has resulted in positive outcomes, not just culturally but, economically, socially and environmentally. It is these other areas where the current ‘marketing’ of the Leeds bid is lacking.
    Our programme should be significantly more inclusive and focussed on the other sectors that define what Leeds is about. Our bid is not just about our cultural heritage and what we plan to do in 2023. The bid should be more about our broader ‘Vision’ for the cities future and what we want from this six year process to ensure there is a really beneficial legacy for everyone in Leeds when we look back after the event in 2024.
    In simple terms, the cultural development of the city needs to be a part of the wider strategy based on the ‘City Vision’.
    Leeds already has a vision that could be usefully more clearly defined now, in the context of the bid. There has been consultation but is there a shared city wide vision? Leeds needs to show that there has been active and inclusive involvement of all citizens, not with just with those interested or involved in cultural activities, This can be done in time for the first submission and further developed throughout the period up to the final submission next year.
    The ‘South Bank’ initiative provides most of the content required to tick the boxes in the wider vision. A great deal of ‘top-down’ consultation has been done but there needs to be a much wider dialogue to ensure that there is a shared vision. This will require a great deal more sharing of information, presentations, engagement activities and inclusive decision making at all levels. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. are not sufficient.
    I understand that this all requires time, money and resource that LCC and the ECoC delivery team may not have at their disposal, so maybe more open invitations to the many active community organisations, no matter how small or ‘niche’, paired with a little of the major sponsor donations would facilitate a more ‘bottom-up’ dialogue?

  9. Students make up about 1 in 7 people in Leeds! Young people come from all around the country to experience Leeds’ fantastic cultural reputation.

    Let’s put students front-and-centre and look at what we’ve brought with us to the city.

  10. To fulfil leeds’ potential we need more iconic architecture such as sky scrapers and sculptures in order for us to become an iconic European and international city. We also need to improve our transport system and implement a subway or tram system to catch up with other major British cities. If we do this we can easily become a leading European city due to our size and infrastructure.

  11. Hi,

    I’m a performance artist based in Huddersfield and really would like to get involved with this amazing opportunity!

    Are you releasing a performer/show call-out for this?

    Also am Co-Director of Huddersfield only platform event for Live/Installation/Visual and Performance Art – is there a way to collaborate our platform with this?


  12. The key sentence in ‘your’ announcement is “If Leeds is crowned European Capital of Culture in 2023, we will undertake a year-long programme of artistic events, large and small, across the city, and we want your ideas.”
    This is great and it is a generous and good thing that you are inviting (presumably) every citizen of Leeds to become involved by sharing their ideas.
    However, this is 2017 and 2023 is six years away. So what have ‘we’, (the Citizens of Leeds) decided to do, starting now, to ensure we win?

    Reading this, My four main concerns are:
    1. ‘If’ is a desperately negative and sad word, surely it should read ‘when’ if ‘you’ are serious about the process.
    2. It is implied that “you”, will need to win if you are to “provide a year long series of artistic events in 2023”. So what happens if Leeds is not “crowned” ? Will ,you’ then persuade someone else to “provide” the year long series of events.
    3. It is not clear who is inviting “our” ideas. it is not clear who ‘we’ or ‘you’ are in the context of this invitation. In other words this invitation does not feel inclusive. The ethos that is implicit is in the language used so far in the media is that this is an ‘event’ in 2023 that ‘you’ are organising hopefully based on ideas provided by ‘us’.
    4. What is the ‘Unique Selling Point” of your bid? It is ceryclear, looking at previous and current successful bids that there is a great dealmore to be done, over and above organising, so called, “Cultural Events” in 2023. The Capital of Culture will ony be won if it can be clearly demonstrated thattheCity hascarriedot an inclusive process of self examination of the culture of the city and this means ‘culture’ in its widest sense including its herirage its current ‘reason for being’ and the legacy that the process will provide. This means that a vertical and horizontal matrix of connectedprocesses need to be set in place covering social, financial, environmental and many other key aspects of what makes a city unique. In short, the Capital of Culture is a holistic set of collective and inclusive processes over the next seven years, not just a plan for a year long soiree in 2023.

    1. We (the Leeds 2023 bid team, run from Leeds City Council) couldn’t agree more!

      In 2014 we started a very cross cutting, very open and very inclusive consultation asking whether or not the city should bid. We spoke to businesses, communities, artists, producers, creators, faith groups, minority groups, young people, old people and many more and didn’t just focus on culture – those conversations took the holistc approach you suggest and looked at what would the city in its entirety need to consider from transport links to hotel stock, housing, schools and education. European Capital of Culture is certainly not just a year long plan of events, but it does include a year long plan of events, projects, residencies and exhibitions that celebrate all facets of life in Leeds through its culture and art.

      The ‘we’ that we’re referring to is the team of people creating, administarting and wrangling with the development of the bid (See here for the team: http://leeds2023.co.uk/about/who-team/) and the ‘you’ is all of the people across Leeds who we still need to find, to tell them that we’re bidding (some people don’t know or think we’ve already won), to ask them what they would like to see in 2023 (not just events but how would they like Leeds to have changed?) and to hopefully grow the already extensive team of people backing the bid and willing the city on to win it. This call for ideas for the programme is just the start of growing and gathering support for the bid – it certainly isn’t the end and won’t be the only thing that we reach out to people with.

  13. I have been involved in amateur theatre for a good number of years, and I am currently on the steering committee of Leeds Arts Centre, a member group of the Leeds Civic Arts Guild which produces shows at the Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds.
    I have had a concern for a good while that there is a distinct lack of racial diversity in the amateur theatre sector in Leeds. I am privately working on a project to try to change this situation for the better, and I am currently investigating the possible reasons for it. I have had some meetings with the Muslim community, and with Dr. Geetha Uphadyaya of Kala Sangam in Bradford, and am trying to make contact with members of the West Indian, African and Eastern European communities to further these enquiries.
    I have the support of the Royal Shakespeare Company, having done work with them in 2016, and a potential interest from the BBC. I would also be interested in having contact with disabled theatre makers in Leeds.
    Although working alone at present, I have the full support of LAC and LCAG in trying to address this situation. If anybody feels that they have some input to this research, or would like to assist, I would be glad to hear from them.

  14. Whether it’s ‘The X-Men’, CSI or groundbreaking developments in gene therapy, there’s hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear some mention of DNA – the stuff that our genes are made of. But how many people realise that some of the first groundbreaking research into the structure of DNA took place right here in Leeds? Two Nobel prizes – the biggest honour in science (!) – have been won for scientific developments made in this city which have subsequently played a role in one of the biggest advances of the 20th century – solving the shape of DNA. This is surely something we can all be proud of and, as part of the 2023 bid, let’s ensure that visitors to the City Museum come away knowing about this great part of Leeds’ history that has had a massive impact on the wider world.
    Dr. K. Hall
    University of Leeds

  15. I would also love to see free Yorkshire Rose and Union flags sent to businesses across the city (provided they are shown how to fly the union flag the right way up!). They should be encouraged to fly them. It is always impressive when you visit cities in Scotland or go to London, and see national and regional flags flying on almost every building. It represents a united city, with many backgrounds, but bound by a single culture.

    This would also be a great time to write to businesses and ask them to get involved (window displays, flying the flags, promoting the year, sponsoring the events, taking part in expos).

  16. I would love to see a string of 5 semi-permanent expo sites built on derelict land around the city center, meaning people can visit additional galleries (and also improving the aesthetics of the city). There are a few empty locations on Southbank, and where the old international pool used to be… (keep Millennium Square for performances across the year) – and take out as many items as possible from storage.

    1) “What did Leeds ever do for us” (history, science, and innovation) Louis Le Prince, Traffic Lights, Hydraulics, various businesses/science etc.. wartime, and the future… (eg. Key University Research at the moment)

    2) “Leeds food, drink, and agriculture” – the history of food in Leeds (from the first settlements, to Tetley’s, to modern day independent culture and food festivals) – with a space for the independents or famous local chains to promote their food with samples to visitors (on rotation)

    3) Leeds Business – major key businesses in Leeds promote their businesses – and also a walk through the history of business in Leeds (Waddingtons, banking industry, ASDA, M&S, GHD, Rockstar, Jet2).

    4) Global Leeds – An expo dedicated to our sister cities and towns – with the tourist board from each one invited to stay for the year and promote their country and city (this may help more people visit the city from around the world). Also, could include a nod to our international student community.

    5) Art Leeds – In connection with the Existing galleries, theaters, Council storage, collage of music, collage of art etc.. items/costumes/pictures/sculptures etc.. should be taken out of storage and put on display.

    Undertaking the above would allow existing venues to continue the work they already do year in and year out meaning Leeds 2023 would be an expanded bid, not just based within venues that already exist (even though they would also take part and do a great job).

  17. A music festival – mini-Glastonbury style – exclusively for young performers (11-18). Multi-genre – not just pop and rock, but celebrating the diversity and the inter-relatedness of cultures we have in Leeds. Everything from bhangra to brass bands.

    Invited groups from cities with which we have strong and ongoing cultural links (Leeds Music Education Partnership already has strong and developing links with music education in Lille, in Chemnitz and, further afield, in Durban). Leeds performers drawn from secondary schools in Leeds (where there are many great performing groups) and the out-of-school opportunities in the city (both through LCC and its many partners).

    This festival might be expanded to include other performing arts
    The festival to take place in one of the green spaces in the city over several days in the summer.

  18. • A project that recreates the journey of textiles from Leeds through Hull and on to Holland and Germany. A tapestry which is added to at each step along the journey?
    • A ‘Leeds metro’ art project – map what a Leeds underground system would look like and create installations at the locations of the stops on the line. Let’s use arts and culture to make a statement about how terrible Leeds’ transport systems are, and what could be there instead.
    • Close the inner ring road for a day or week – what would Leeds feel like for communities on the edge of the centre if it had never been a motorway city
    • Find all the ‘hidden’ areas of Leeds – bomb shelters beneath Park Square? Open them up to the public

  19. Lets turn the city into one huge art gallery and have a festival called Show Us Your Art! where shops could exhibit peices that are currently in storage from the museums & galleries and homes can display their art or loaned pieces in their front windows with a map to show the trail.

  20. It’s about time Leeds hosted a proper Jazz Festival once again!!!!! We have one of the finest Colleges of Music and also one of the best jazz degree courses in the country . Hence Leeds abounds with superbly talented young and not so young jazz musicians and yet we don’t currently have a jazz festival.
    We could launch an initial festival in 2020 and then expand it year by year until it becomes a permanent fixture , a la Manchester’s.

    1. I agree! There is a plan. One day this year (3 August) in Millennium Square and Carriageworks, three days next year (July 21-23rd) growing to a week or more by 2023! Fancy joining us? Steve

  21. The first ever Leeds PeaceJam conference with a Nobel Peace Laureate to be held on the 25th and 26th November 2017 at Leeds Trinity University. PeaceJam is an international peace education programme aimed at helping teenagers become active citizens and advocates for peace, justice an human rights.It is an exciting programme , which has been running in the UK for the last ten years.A unique opportunity for Secondary aged students to be inspired by a Nobel Peace Laureate and to initiate action based projects in their schools and localities to bring about positive transformation.The PeaceJam UK team is working in partnership with Leeds Children’s Services,Leeds Trinity University. Participating students and their schools will capture the highlights of their action plans as films for the Leeds Film Festival. University students get the opportunity to mentor secondary school aged students during the conference and thereafter. 2017 marks the launch of PeaceJam in Leeds and the plans are to establish an on going programme involving all Secondary schools and Youth organisations in Leeds as well as all the Universities and Institutions of further education.The PeaceJam Foundation has a group of 13 committed Nobel Peace Laureates working alongside young people, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Dalai Lama, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Shirin Ebadi,Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Jody Williams, Aung San Suu Kyi,Jose Ramos-Horta,Oscar Arias Sanchez, Betty Williams, Adolfo Perez Esquivel,Leymah Gbowee. The late Sir Joseph Rotblat, Nobel Peace Laureate worked to bring PeaceJam to the UK. Young people are the future and investing in their leadership to become advocates for peace, equality and justice and an integral part of Leeds as the European Capital of Culture.

  22. Hi folks – 2018 is an important anniversary for jazz in Leeds – 50 years on since the Duke Ellington Orchestra appeared in the City at the Leeds Music Festival.

    We want to do the first (propoer!) Leeds Jazz Festival – one which truly reflects on this great landmark with a recreation of Ellington’ music, with both a look back to Leeds Jazz History (with music by great Leeds Jazz luminaries like Sax Woman Ivy Benson from Holbeck, the leader of the first all women’s jazz group in the 1930’s and Bob Barclay -owner of the famous Studio 20 venue in Upper Briggate) – right the way through to Jazz in present day Leeds with acclaimed composers such as Dave Kane and James Hamilton and a thriving jazz scene based around clubs like award winning Seven Jazz Leeds and Leeds College of Music. We want the festival (And future festivals) to have stong European link too – with the presentation in 2018 of a number of Dutch jazz performers. We want ll this to support Leeds bid to be the 2023 Capital of Culture – a jazz festival that is not a clone of others in the UK and Europe, but one that truly reflects the city and its history and jazz achievements. Do come and support us! We’ll be putting on a curtain raiser day of jazz in 2017 – July 27th in Millennium Square, with the headline act being Leeds “smooth Jazz” sax star Snake Davis! Steve Crocker (Jazz Leeds, 07544 352594)

  23. Quick idea – I think given the river Aire is one of the things that ‘made’ Leeds it’s a bit under-utilized – how about asking the offices and appartments facing onto the river between the station and the armouries to drape large-scale hoardings of artworks down the side of the buildings for a river-based art gallery – to view it hop on one of the water-taxis (or take the footpaths along the river if you’re lacking sea legs and a sense of adventure).

  24. How about a day where people reduce the amount of tech they rely on. Come together to tell stories about how they did it. E. G. How I got around without sat nav

  25. As someone who was born and grew up in Leeds, I am very keen to support our city’s bid to become 2023 European Capital of Culture. I believe Leeds has great potential for a successful bid due to its rich and varied history and diverse culture. Although I’m sure there are lots of marvellous ideas being put in to place, I do sometimes wonder whether Leeds overlooks a lot of its marvellous industrial and cultural heritage. One example of this is the way that very little has been made of the claim that Louis Le Prince successfully trialled the world’s first movie camera and projector in Leeds in 1888. This should be something that is promoted and celebrated all over Leeds! It should be promoted to film students, film buffs, the Leeds Film Festival should celebrate it more, and it should be a main feature on any visitors information on Leeds. There should be tourist souvenirs and postcards available with Louis Le Prince on them. Sadly, however, LCC does not seem interested in this incredible claim to fame for Leeds.
    Another example, while a bit more obscure, is an example of a certain kind of snobbery towards what is considered worthy of the label culture. Recently, a group of former club-goers from Leeds tried to petition to get a blue plaque put up in the Merion Centre to celebrate the fact that the WORLD’S FIRST EVER Goth nightclub opened in Leeds BEFORE the club in London which claims to have that honour. Although this was not in LCC’s jurisdiction as they do not own the Merion Centre, I imagine not many members of LCC are promoting Leeds as the cultural capital of Goth, and yet Goth has become a popular underground fashion and music scene around the world. Other cities would capitalise on this but it’s another example of how Leeds often misses a trick when it comes to culture and not being ashamed of less conventional forms of cultural expression. So much as I love Leeds and want it to win the bid, and much as I agree that there are all kinds of fantastic cultural activities being promoted and supported, I find it a bit ironic that a city that ignores so much of its heritage and is even a bit embarrassed by it, wants to become a cultural capital.

  26. If Leeds is to become this prestigious, then perhaps you might look into the threat of closing down the amateur playhouse, at present using the Carriage works Theatre. The only difference between the players there, and professionals, is that they don’t get paid ! They’re brilliant, and do it all for the sheer pleasure of bringing plays to the public. They’ve already been evicted from the Civic Theatre (Now Leeds Museum). Surely any City wanting to be thought a cut above all the rest needs more theatres – not less ! They are in the centre of Leeds (not like the Playhouse almost out of town), and they encourage our University students to expand their learning, witness recent many new members. Where are all the future actors to come from, like Diana Rigg etc. if not from the amateur scene?

    1. We don’t know the details of the amateur playhouse and its situation but we do want everyone to be able to benefit from the bid and to have the opportunity to share their ideas, programme work and create more of the things they love. Ideas from the amateur playhouse and indeed any other amateur societies and clubs would be very welcome!

  27. Dear Leeds 2023,
    We are a class of international students, writing to support your bid for European Capital of Culture 2023. We love Leeds and have enjoyed getting to know this city where we are studying, so we have some ideas for you.

    We imagine that you already have a large number of great ideas for traditional culture (art, music, theatre, dance, etc). So our ideas are in various other innovative areas.

    Firstly we believe Leeds should promote having a lot of beautiful parks, so many of your events for 2023 could happen outdoors.

    Our second idea is that this city really ought to develop its buildings near the river to show the art of modern architecture.

    Next, the Leeds 2023 bid could try to include its international restaurants to highlight international culture, for example Japanese and Middle Eastern restaurants, food and culture, to show inter-cultural exchange.

    Also and very importantly, Leeds should publicise the Capital of Culture idea to the world, using a multitude of languages and media, to involve not only the different communities of Leeds, the UK, and Europe, but also of the world. None of my class of international students have ever heard of this Capital of Culture before this week!

    Furthermore, the city certainly ought to improve its bus services before 2023. Perhaps Leeds could also include “Art on the buses” (plus free wi-fi for all visitors). We think buses should announce their next stop – perhaps with a cultural flavour, for example “next stop University, for the XXXX exhibition”, or “next stop The Headrow for the sculpture gallery.”

    Finally, we love the pubs and clubs of this great city of ours, so events for 2023 should happen not only in theatres and galleries, but in these very special community places, to involve more fun.

    In conclusion, we hope our suggestions are useful for you and we wish you a very successful bid for 2023.

    Best wishes,
    “Hirst” class of General English at the University of Leeds, February 2017 (this class is named after an artist).

  28. I’d like to see an opportunity for offenders who are going through a post custodial rehabilitation placement across the city involved in doing creative activities within the community to regenerate areas and put something back into society. This helps reintegrate people back into the community and breaks down stereotypes whilst improving the self esteem and confidence of those participating. These projects could be undertaken in partnership with local third sector arts organisations such as Artlink . I’m currently piloting a project of this type with them and intend to start another with students on the drama therapy course at leeds uni.

  29. Read on Twitter – Leeds named and shamed among list of UK cities breaching @EU_Commission air pollution limits!!

    My Idea to reduce it by #Leeds2023 – Id love to see it reduced with a magnetic high rise fun ride into the City or cable cart they use for the snowy zones 🙂

  30. How about a huge, colourful pageant/parade around the city centre in the summer, with floats representing everything that makes Leeds great. For example, a float with an orchestra from Opera North; Leeds Festival Chorus; Northern Ballet; Phoenix Dance; the sporting heritage of the city eg LUFC, Cricket, Golf (Leeds has the most golf courses than any other city in the UK with circa 21) It’s major parks; the world renowned teaching Hospitals; one representing the city’s cultural population/demographics eg Jewish, West Indian, Asian; Marks & Spencer’s; Kirkgate Market; Victorian architecture; Our stately homes; our universities’ alumni; celebrities/VIPs from Leeds eg Damien Hirst, Jeremy Paxman, John Craven, Kay Mellor, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Alan Bennett.

  31. I was an Erasmus student in Leeds this last semester and I just wanted to say that you should promote more that part of the city ! There are plenty of international students there and we all love the city and that’s one of the reasons !