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Ode to Leeds: The Movement

Our artists are one of our strongest voices, and they have been making themselves heard from all corners of the city for decades. Focusing on artistic empowerment regardless of age, colour, gender or background Ode to Leeds tells the story of home, a place that is uniquely ours, through the eyes, ears and mouths of Leeds Young Authors and their quest to be heard on an international stage.

Written by Leeds Young Authors alumnus Zodwa Nyoni and produced by West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining, Ode to Leeds is more than a play. The writers, producers, directors and performers used this powerful story to empower a new generation of Leeds writers to find their voice, through workshops, open mic nights, a 24 hour Takeover of the Playhouse and poetry slams. Ode to Leeds: The Movement, created new opportunities for young people in areas of low artistic engagement such as Armley, Harehills and Seacroft to be inspired by their own story and believe in the possibility that the future could hold.

Leading artists, poets, beat boxers and writers including Testament, spoken word collective, Young Identity, and up and coming grime rapper Chiedu Oraka, worked alongside Leeds Young Authors to develop new artists and unearth new stories of Leeds from the perspective of young people, allowing unprecedented access to buildings and venues to spark their imagination and push them to look again at the place they call home.

Genesis Lynne performs as part of Ode to Leeds

Sophie Ignatieff, Project Producer at West Yorkshire Playhouse said: “Producing Ode to Leeds: The Movement, which has centred on giving a platform to the voices of Leeds about their city, has impressed upon me the huge diversity and vitality of this city. The stories we have heard have been wide-ranging and encompassed a variety of different communities and age ranges. The project has focussed on spoken word and live music, which has demonstrated what a wealth of great Leeds artists there are in these art forms and many others.”

Our artists have the ability to help us recognise and reimagine the world around us. Projects like Ode to Leeds: The Movement allow us invest a new generation of artists who will break beyond old boundaries to tell new stories of the city, to Europe and the world beyond.