On the eve of a new national lockdown across England, the performing arts sector across Leeds has come together and issued a joint statement of solidarity and hope for the people of Leeds:
“We are naturally very disappointed to have to shut our doors once again, so soon after re-opening. It has been clear from the numbers of people who have returned to our theatres, clubs, gigs and other venues, that the people of Leeds have missed live performance and cultural events just as much as we have missed creating extraordinary experiences for all of us to enjoy. Given the worrying rise in infections, however, we recognise the need to protect the health of as many people as possible in our communities.”
“In such uncertain times, the one thing that remains certain is our commitment to apply our imagination to find new ways to connect creatively with one another. With the welcome support from the Cultural Recovery Fund, the Council and other trusts and foundations, we have already taken up the challenge of reaching audiences in new socially-distant ways, leading to exciting and unusual collaborations. From experiencing opera in the car park at the Holbeck, to intimate evenings of beatboxing and poetry at the Playhouse and live outdoor theatre for children and families in Harehills, we have forged new collaborations and trialled different ways of entertaining audiences. We’ve also witnessed new bands and artists popping up that have been developing during lockdown.”
“Our rich ecosystem of relationships, skills and talent is interlinked at every level. Here in Leeds several cultural organisations have been able to commit to supporting freelance colleagues and we hope that further support can be found for our freelancers and independent artists on whom we all depend.”
“Culture not only brings comfort and joy to all those who experience it, but it delivers educational and health and wellbeing impacts. Much of our education and community outreach work has continued throughout 2020 and will continue during this new period of lockdown. This work includes free story books for kids in South Leeds; educational resources for schools; playwriting for young people; a ‘Theatre of Sanctuary’ programme for refugees and people seeking asylum.”
“And while the physical doors are shut, we remain very much open to anyone who wants to get involved with our work. There are many ways – both online and offline – that people can support venues and organisations: signing up as a Friend; buying a gift membership for a loved one; gifting Slung Low’s children’s book and with Christmas approaching, we’re backing the #BuyLeeds campaign that will help save jobs for local people so we all have culture to come back to.”
“As Billy Bremner once said: ‘Side before self’. Whether you are a Leeds United fan or not, we are stronger together, and by supporting one another we know that COVID-19 will not stop the extraordinary creative energy of this great city! We urge everyone to stay safe and we look forward to welcoming audiences back again in the not too distant future and playing our role in the city’s economic and social recovery from the pandemic.”
Balbir Singh Dance Company
Brudenell Social Club
Compass Live Art
CLAY Centre for Live Art Yorkshire
Hyde Park Book Club
Imagine If Theatre Co.
Leeds City Council venues: Leeds Town Hall, Carriageworks Theatre, Millennium Square
Leeds Heritage Theatres
Northern Opera Group
Northern School of Contemporary Dance & Riley Theatre
Open Source Arts
Phoenix Dance Theatre
Red Ladder Theatre
Sustainable Arts in Leeds (SAIL)
South Asian Arts-uk (SAA-uk)
The Performance Ensemble
tutti frutti productions
Collectively, since the first lockdown in March we have created hundreds of live performances for thousands of socially-distanced audience members and millions of online viewers in Leeds, across the UK and worldwide And that’s just from one part of the vast and rich cultural infrastructure of Yorkshire.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This has already been an incredibly tough and challenging year for our creative sector and we know the prospect of another lockdown will be a daunting and worrying prospect for the cultural community in Leeds.
“Make no mistake, the scale of the challenges we face right now as a city cannot be underestimated and every day, we are working together to ensure Leeds emerges from this crisis with the unique identity it has built over generations intact.
“As we fight the impact of this terrible virus, we have taken heart from our talented arts venues, cultural institutions and communities, who have responded in so many innovative and inventive ways to give comfort, light and entertainment to thousands of people waging their own individual battles each and every day across the city.
“In these dark times, the value of culture and its power to enrich lives and bring hope is more valuable than ever and we will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the creative sector, lending our help and support wherever and however we can and encouraging the people of Leeds to do the same.”
For information about what Leeds performing arts venues and organisations have been up to during this challenging year and for details of how to support them take a look at this document