Back to News
  • Share:

Leeds 2023 R&D Challenge

  • 9th December 2019
  • Posted by Leeds 2023

Ahead of developing detailed plans for an international year of culture, Leeds 2023 wishes to support a small number of active projects that meet the following criteria:


This support is for projects that Leeds 2023 has a pre-existing relationship with and that we now wish to develop further by testing their feasibility for potential inclusion in the Leeds 2023 programme.
(We will match up to £20K or more in exceptional circumstances)


In exceptional circumstances we may fund projects which have not been funded by or presented to Leeds 2023 before. These projects will not involve capital funds and will need to clearly demonstrate they meet all the criteria below.
(Funding level £2k – £10K)


To be eligible in either of these categories you will need to demonstrate competence in most or all of the following:

  • Clear benefits to Leeds and its ambitions for a city-wide festival
  • Work of potentially international standard
  • Projects that require a long (2 – 3 year) development period due to their scale, ambition and level of complexity
  • Projects that build capacity
  • Projects that have audience development and engaging communities at the heart of their thinking
  • In exceptional circumstances, projects that are new to Leeds either in terms of scale or partnerships
  • Projects that have the potential to lever other significant partnerships with broadcasters, arts producers, and other cities nationally and internationally
  • Projects that are rooted in the heritage and stories of the people of Leeds and its environs
  • Work that develops pilots for testing larger scale programming in 2023
  • Feasibility studies into larger scale work with total budgets in excess of £250,000

Projects that we support:

At this stage we will support projects that Leeds 2023 has a pre-existing relationship with and that require support to take them to the next stage of development. In exceptional cases new projects will be considered providing they meet the eligibility criteria.

  • We are keen to support projects that allow artists and creative organisations to develop their work and test their feasibility for potential inclusion in the Leeds 2023 programme
  • Projects that are developing a new idea or exploring a new way of working
  • Projects that demonstrate they have clear benefit to the people of Leeds
  • Projects that are in line with Leeds 2023’s ambitions and that clearly demonstrate they are being developed with the intention of potential inclusion in the Leeds 2023 programme

Who can apply?

Individuals or organisations can only apply if they are formally invited. An invitation will be made in writing by Leeds 2023’s Creative Director or Leeds 2023’s Chair, or other Leeds 2023 staff as appropriate.

Individuals or organisations must:

  • Have a bank account in the exact name of the project they are seeking funds for
  • Be 18 years of age or over
  • Individuals or organisations must be based in the UK

What can I do if I’d like to propose a project for potential funding but haven’t been formerly invited?

If you think your project meets most or all of the criteria above please email us at introducing yourself, your organisation and your project. We will meet with you to find out more about your project and assess whether we’d like to invite you to make a proposal for this fund.

Will there be future funding that I can apply for?

Yes, although this scheme is specifically designed to help progress projects that have time critical elements or need urgent support and will only run until September 2020. After that, other funding models will replace it.


  • Projects that promote particular political or religious beliefs or are sponsorship/fundraising events
  • Projects that benefit a very small number of people
  • Funding for activities that have happened or would have happened without funding
  • Projects that are seeking capital funds

Monitoring and publicity

  • Successful projects will be required to credit support from Leeds 2023
  • Successful projects will be required to be available for monitoring visits from funders
  • Successful applicants will need to agree to details of any support received to be promoted in the public realm as required

Our decision-making process

Applications to The Leeds 2023 R&D Challenge are made by invitation only at this stage, all grants made will be subject to our grant terms and conditions.

All proposals will be reviewed by Leeds 2023’s Creative Director and specialist advice may also be taken from independent advisors. Upon recommendation of the Creative Director, the final decision will be made by a sub-group of Leeds 2023’s board of trustees.  You may be asked to attend an interview following your submission. We expect to make a decision within 28 days, after which funding will be made available immediately.


Leeds 2023 R&D Challenge Privacy Notice