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LEEDS 2023 secures £1m funding in major show of confidence for transformational cultural celebration

City Square Leeds City Centre. Credit Carl Milner for Visit Leeds

With a year to go to the start of LEEDS 2023, Leeds Culture Trust has secured the backing of major investment partners to support the development and delivery of the planned year-long cultural celebration.

Public sector organisations and private sector businesses’ combined investment of £1million is a major boost to LEEDS 2023 Year of Culture, which aims to be a key contributor the city region’s pandemic recovery,creating a positive and lasting legacy.

£500,000 funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation will support a major project that will take place in the lead up to and during LEEDS 2023, featuring artists working in the heart of communities across all 33 wards of the city.  

Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive, Paul Hamlyn Foundation said: “LEEDS 2023 aims to unlock the creative potential of local people in all communities, empowering them to develop work that celebrates the culture and voices of the city. At the heart of this project is a commitment to building skills and demonstrating the value of inclusive practice in supporting local communities and we look forward to seeing the programme take shape in an exciting year ahead.”

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has awarded more than £288,000 to support a range of activities including a creative learning programme and opportunities for children and young people. £150,000 has been secured from the British Council, which is already working with LEEDS 2023 to support creative partnerships between Leeds artists and international collaborators to make new work for the city’s landmark year of culture. 

British Council Director England, Ellen Berry said: “LEEDS 2023 is an exciting opportunity for the city to explore its heritage, expand its global connections with new relationships, and create together through the themes of language and diaspora. This is exactly what our international cultural network is about, for artists to exchange ideas and explore cultures across geographical boundaries.”

In a major show of confidence from the business sector, KPMG – which employs 1,100 people in the city – has confirmed a significant financial commitment alongside pro-bono support including volunteering time, use of staff and resources. Representing the built environment sector, developer HBD and global engineering, management and development consultancy Mott MacDonald also join as LEEDS 2023 Club Members. 

Kully Thiarai, CEO and Creative Director for LEEDS 2023, commented: “LEEDS 2023 will be a huge team effort, involving many partners of all kinds to be a truly transformational milestone that is accessible for everyone. These partnerships and the investment that comes with them are a significant show of confidence in the vital role culture plays in creating a successful, inclusive city. 

“We are thankful to our funders and corporate partners whose backing is instrumental in bringing to life our ambitions for LEEDS 2023 and we look forward to making further announcements later this month as we mark our ‘one year to go ‘milestone.”

For further information or images please contact Debbie Bradley at Anita Morris Associates on 074 036 2861 /

Notes to editors:

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. Chaired since November 2021 by Gabby Logan, the independent charity was set up in 2019 by Leeds City Council as part of its Culture Strategy and as a response to the cancellation of the UK’s participation in the European Capital of Culture competition. 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. 

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Paul Hamlyn Foundation was established by Paul Hamlyn in 1987. He died in 2001 and left most of his estate to the Foundation, creating one of the largest independent grant-making foundations in the UK.

We use our resources to support social change, working towards a just and equitable society in which everyone, especially young people, can realise their full potential and enjoy fulfilling and creative lives.

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve our natural world, secure a fairer future and strengthen the bonds in communities in the UK. We unlock change by contributing everything we can alongside people and organisations with brilliant ideas who share our goals.

The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK. In 2020, we provided £53.5m in grant funding towards work in support of our aims and our emergency response to COVID. We also have a £45 million allocation to social investments for organisations with the aim of creating social impact.

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.


KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 21 offices across the UK with approximately 16,000 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.3 billion in the year ended 30 September 2020. KPMG is a global organisation of independent professional services firms providing Audit, Legal, Tax and Advisory services. It operates in 147 countries and territories and has more than 219,000 people working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee. KPMG International Limited and its related entities do not provide services to clients.


HBD is part of the Henry Boot Group of Companies, with over 130 years’ experience bringing buildings back to life. With seven offices across the UK, HBD takes on ambitious developments across three key areas; industrial and logistics, residential and urban regeneration, and remains focused on growing its investment portfolio.

HBD’s development portfolio includes everything from work spaces and logistics, through to residential innovation and award-winning heritage projects – no two developments are the same. From the £330m P&J Live Arena in Aberdeen and its £250m Kampus development, through to the vast 370-acre International Advanced Manufacturing Park in the North East, HBD creates places with purpose.

Mott MacDonald 

Our purpose is to improve society by considering social outcomes in everything we do, relentlessly focusing on excellence and digital innovation, transforming our clients’ businesses, our communities and employee opportunities.

As a leading global consultancy, we have a responsibility to use the influence we have, through delivering some of the world’s largest infrastructure projects, to make a positive change for those who need it most. We look at all projects through a ‘social’ lens. We always start with the ambition of making positive and transformational social change in every major project we deliver. We listen to local people to understand their aspirations. We develop inclusive infrastructure through people-centred planning and design.

By working in this way, we know we can address long-term inequalities, support current and future citizens to live happier and healthier lives, and leave a legacy of sustainable, resilient and inclusive communities.