A trio of new high-profile sponsors have thrown their weight behind Leeds’s ambitious bid to land the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture 2023.
Yorkshire Bank, Yorkshire Building Society and Yorkshire Water are among big businesses who pledged their support to the exciting bid during a spectacular event held at Northern Ballet last night (March 8).
Companies from across the region have committed a combined £250,000 towards sponsoring the bid, with the money set to support a programme of cultural events in 2017 and 2018.
The programme will aim to showcase and enhance existing Leeds festivals as well as giving scope for the creation of a brand new commission.
Richard Gregory, senior advisor and honorary Yorkshire Bank chair, said: “Leeds is a great city and this is a great opportunity to tell its story.
“The bid will create value and opportunity for the city’s communities, cultural sector and businesses and give Leeds the European and international profile it deserves. Yorkshire Bank is absolutely delighted to be helping Leeds realise its potential’.
Tanya Jackson, head of corporate affairs at Yorkshire Building Society said: “As a major employer in Yorkshire we are proud to back the Leeds 2023 bid to secure this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Leeds to take its place on Europe’s stage.
“We will be champions for the region’s cultural diversity and provide inspiring opportunities for our colleagues and members to help share and shape the great story Leeds 2023 has to tell. As the only bid from the north, if successful it will bring social and economic benefits that will have a lasting and positive impact on the region.”
Last night’s event saw more than 100 local businesses attend to hear more about how to get involved in backing the bid.
Sharon Watson, artistic director with Phoenix Dance Theatre, chair of the Leeds 2023 Independent Steering Group and Yorkshire Woman of the Year 2016, led proceedings on the night, which coincided with International Women’s Day.
Those in attendance were entertained by a jazz trio from Leeds College of Music, an extract from Northern Ballet’s spectacular production of Casanova ahead of its world premiere on March 11 and a performance from Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Youth Academy.
Karen Sewell, solicitor and UK head of legal with WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff and business spokeswoman for the Independent Steering Group, said: “It’s hugely exciting to see three more prominent businesses showing their belief in our city’s European Capital of Culture bid, alongside our bid backers
“Their support will make a huge difference in bringing the bid to life and helping to create a programme of events that will capture the imagination of the next generation of cultural and creative talent in Leeds.
“We also hope their example will now inspire more businesses to come forward and pledge their support as we look to gather momentum and bring our communities, businesses and cultural sector together behind the bid.”
Also last night were confirmed sponsors including Arup, Bruntwood, Keepmoat, DLA Piper, Rushbond, RSM UK.
The event comes after Leeds officially called on communities, organisations and individuals from across the city to submit their ideas for the 2023 bid.
A new website www.leeds2023.co.uk means anyone in the city has the opportunity to share their ideas for cultural and creative projects that could help the city win the bid for the title of European Capital of Culture 2023.
A final decision is made in 2018.