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The Leeds education sector has come together for the first time to lend its financial backing to the city’s bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023, giving the bid a £375,500 funding boost.

The city’s three universities, University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University, came together behind the bid opening up new international connections for the project across their diverse alumni and partners and helping the bid to connect the city’s huge student community who make up a third of the Leeds population.

Sharon Watson, Chair of the Leeds 2023 Independent Steering Group said: “The support from the academic institutes in the city demonstrates the commitment to make Leeds the winning city in this race. Over the last twelve months we have worked hard to bring the city together behind the bid and are ready for the call for entries.”

Frank Finlay, Dean of Faculty of Arts of University of Leeds said: “The University of Leeds has been a partner for Leeds 2023 since the very beginning and we are delighted to be part of this exciting opportunity for Leeds. The city has an exceptional, experimental and diverse culture offer, which we are proud to support. We are looking forward to new Cultural Institute playing a key role in supporting the city’s bid for European Capital of Culture.”

Leeds is the only city outside of London to have three fine art degrees, and three specialist colleges creating the future artists who will deliver the city’s cultural ambitions. Leeds City College, Leeds College of Art, Leeds College of Music and Northern School of Contemporary Dance all pledged financial and in kind support for the bid process.

Gerry Godley, Principal and Chief Executive of Leeds College of Music, is also a member of the Leeds 2023 Independent Steering Group: “It has been fantastic to watch all facets of the city coming together behind this bid, from culture and arts, education and business to local communities who have been working with over the summer to ensure that the bid reflects the whole city. It is a phenomenal chance for students in Leeds to be part of a once in a life time, truly global opportunity to put Leeds firmly on the map.”

The support from the bid’s education partners has enabled the city to create a bold new brand for the bid which, released last week and adopted by more than 100 culture and arts organisations, will be used to promote the cultural offer to national and international audiences.

Cities in the two host countries, UK and Hungary, will hold the prestigious title in 2023, during which the winning cities in those countries will host a range of cultural events with a strong European theme.

The last UK city to hold the title was almost a decade ago in Liverpool. The Liverpool 2008 year as European Capital of Culture created a £750 million boost for the local economy and attracted 9.7 million visitors to the city.


Photography Credits:

Image: Simon Dewhurst L-R: Andrew Fryer Dean of School Film, Music and Performing Arts Leeds Beckett University, Simon Thorpe Director of Studies, Professional & External Development Leeds College of Art, Prof. Frank Finley Dean of Faculty of Arts University of Leeds, Gerry Godley Principal and Chief Executive Leeds College of Music.
Press Contacts:

For further information or interview requests please contact Leanne Buchan at Leanne@leeds2023.co.uk or on 0113 37 87908.
Notes to Editors:

  • Leeds is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture 2023. The competition can only be hosted by UK five times per century and was last hosted in 2008 when Liverpool won the title. Prior to this Glasgow is the only other city to have the competition in 1990.
  • Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture 2008 is estimated to have resulted in an economic impact of £750 million and opinion surveys showing an 85% increase in satisfaction from the local residents when asked if they liked living in the city.
  • The Leeds bid is being led by and Independent Steering Group which has cross party support from Leeds City Council. Leeds City Council is already a minority funder of the bid with commercial partners and sponsorship contributing to the cost of bidding.
  • The bid process takes four years with Leeds starting conversations about bidding in 2014 and expecting a decision in 2018.
  • The competition is delivered by the European Commission but not specifically for EU Countries. Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are all outside of the EU and have all hosted successful European Capitals of Culture. The competition is administered in the UK by the Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS)
  • Two cities host the competition each year. In 2023 one UK city and one Hungarian city will host the title. Current European Capitals of Culture are San Sebastian in Spain and Wroclaw in Poland.
  • For more information visit: www.leeds2023.co.uk

Press Contact

Leanne Buchan

0113 378 7908