The LEEDS 2023 website uses the UserWay accessibility widget. As a simulation of actual copy, using ordinary words with normal letter frequencies, it cannot deceive eye or brain.


Let’s work together to create a cultural and economic powerhouse

Leeds Corn Exchange building during the day with a blue sky

“Let’s work together to create a cultural and economic powerhouse that can turbo-charge our recovery” by Jonathan Maud, Chairman and Managing Director Rushbond Group.

As Covid-19 restrictions continue to impact on businesses across the region, we look for glimmers of hope on the horizon. To that end, we look to what this region was and is achieving, but most importantly, what it is capable of being in the world of creativity.

New research from Arts Council England highlights that the overall value to the economy of arts and culture in the Yorkshire and Humber region is £1.2bn, accounting for over 21,000 (full-time equivalent) jobs. The tranche of ‘Recovery’ grants awarded to our cultural and heritage organisations will no doubt be a welcome lifeline to many.

Pre-Covid, Leeds was the fourth fastest growing city in creative industries with an increase of some 5,000 jobs and 500 new businesses in the first half of the decade, according to Arts Council England’s 2020 report from Metro Dynamics. The significance and influence of art, artists and creativity throughout our towns cities and rural areas impacts positively on our lives far beyond the creative industries themselves, and the economic benefits they generate, vital though they are.

We want to live and work in places where we feel connected with others; to be part of something, or somewhere, special; somewhere really worthwhile. The process of creation is by its very nature collaborative – even a single artwork by an artist relies on the input of many others to be realised – it’s this sense of collective human endeavour that imparts the values and culture of a place, embodying its very soul.

Throughout Leeds and Yorkshire, there is a wealth of creative talent, striving for excellence and expression; fuel for businesses, keeping us on our toes, driving passion and enthusiasm and generally making this such an exciting region to be based in. This energy and ambition, which infuses confidence, helps attract likeminded businesses when they’re choosing a location – we hear this all the time from our partners and colleagues.

The arrival of Channel 4 in Leeds in the new Majestic building, due to open in the New Year, is not only an important marker for the city’s profile as a creative hub, but it will also be a catalyst for new opportunities, new enterprise, and create work for the region’s many independent production companies.

Looking a little further ahead, Leeds 2023 promises to be a transformational year that will not only catapult Leeds as a cultural giant onto the world stage but will also pay economic dividends. According to a study by the University of Hull, Hull’s City of Culture 2017 generated £300m into the local economy!

At Rushbond from day one, nearly 35 years ago, we took a decision to invest in culture within our developments because we see the real and positive difference it can make to a place and its community – and it’s not just about the economic dividends. Artists and their collaborators help us to create new narratives for both new developments and indeed for heritage buildings, inspiring people’s imaginations, offering different perspectives and encouraging them to think again about what they see around them. Preparing buildings for the next chapter.

During such a challenging period, it is a beacon of hope to see the public sector’s support for arts and culture – to understand the role culture can play in a place and to support business, not only in terms of renewed hope and confidence, but through ways to collaborate; to adopt art and culture as a platform for creativity and innovation that can add value to our regional economy.

By working collectively, we have the potential to not only turbo-charge our economic recovery, but also set a new positive post-Covid future for all of us in this amazing region.

First published in the Yorkshire Post ‘Voices’ on 22 October 2020

IMAGE: Leeds Corn Exchange, photograph by Simon Dewhirst