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LEEDS 2023 launches two international programmes to create new work for city’s year of culture

LCC Cityscapes Bus Station Hyperlapse. Credit: Carl Milner Photography for Leeds City Council

LEEDS 2023 has announced two new streams of work, supported by the British Council, which will forge creative partnerships between Leeds artists and international collaborators to create new work for the city’s landmark year of culture. 

The World in Our City, the City in Our World will see five Leeds-based artists work with artists and creative companies from around the world from Kuala Lumpur to Karachi, to develop ideas that could be realised in Leeds and collaborating countries in 2023. 

Over the coming weeks, the cross-continent commissioned musicians, theatre makers, artists, DJs, writers and activists will collaborate online to develop their ideas.

African connections will be cemented as Leeds-based author and life coach, Ndidi Nkwopara teams up with award-winning artistic director, Edmund Mhlongo, founder of KwaMashu Community Advancement Projects (K-CAP – a non-profit organisation that aims to use the creative arts as a tool for youth empowerment and sustainable employment). They will develop intergenerational dialogue between African women in Leeds and African women in Durban which examines the impact of culture, migration, religion and ethnicity on health and wellbeing. 

UK rap and RnB artist David Ntantu (Leeds) and Afrobeats musician Brawny Pondis (Lagos) will collaborate on a new album that connects their two towns. Fusing RnB with African Diaspora inspired music, the work will reflect their experiences during lockdown when the two originally connected online.

Two of the projects in development combine the creative talents of artists working in Leeds and Malaysia. Leeds-based non-binary trans, Malaysian/British sound artist, DJ, and activist, Sayang, will work with Malaysian individuals and groups, to explore ways to safely share the country’s queer, trans, intersex and non-binary stories that exist, and have always existed, in the country.  The Kuala Lumpur-based KL Shakespeare Players, who create abridged, irreverent adaptations of Shakespeare’s works, will partner with Leeds-based Knaive Theatre to make a new performance piece exploring food, hospitality, identity and authenticity. 

The fifth partnership is a musical collaboration between Pakistani guitarist, composer and music producer, Shallum Xavier, based in Karachi, and Leeds singer/songwriter, Christella Litras, who will blend Eastern classical Ragas with Western musical structures to create an EP and music videos.     

A second programme, also supported by the British Council and in collaboration with the University of Leeds’ Frontiers InstituteTech for the Public Good, sees the creation of an international online residency which brings together participants* working in the arts, tech and digital, business and the third sector in countries including Ghana, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Mexico and the UK. 

Together, they will use culture and technology to explore some of the biggest challenges faced by citizens around the world today, combining their digital skills and creative talents to produce a prototype artwork for each solution that is freely available and piloted in all participating countries. As part of the programme, LEEDS 2023 will be hosting 3 roundtables bringing together artists, researchers, academics and activists with the participants on the subjects of Mental Health, Women’s Rights and Climate Change. The events are free and open to anyone to take part and will be recorded and distributed as a podcast also.

Emma Beverley – LEEDS 2023 Executive Producer saidLeeds is an international city, and international collaboration will be a key element of our Year of Culture. We’re excited to expand on that work with these two programmes supported by the British Council. This work will see us foster new connections across borders whilst also supporting and developing local talent.”

Ellen Berry, Director, British Council England, said: “We are delighted to support new international collaborations during LEEDS 2023, connecting local artists to those across the world. These two projects support our wider work in connecting the UK’s creative sector internationally and are a great opportunity to make positive change through art, creativity, and technology. We look forward to seeing the projects develop, supporting Leeds’s international ambitions and showcasing the city on a global stage.”

For more information on LEEDS 2023 visit


Notes to Editors

About LEEDS 2023

LEEDS 2023‘s ambition is to deliver a transformational year of creative experiences connecting and benefiting people now and into the future. The planned programme will celebrate and transform the city’s identity locally, nationally and internationally – creating a lasting legacy of economic and social impact. 

LEEDS 2023 is run by the Leeds Culture Trust, an independent charity set up in 2019 by Leeds City Council as part of its Culture Strategy. Leeds City Council recognises in a number of its key strategies the difference culture and creativity can make to a city and its citizens, and is the principal funder of LEEDS 2023. 

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. In 2019-2020 we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 14.5 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.


Debbie Bradley at Anita Morris Associates / 01943 603311