In The Media
Part One: Awakening

Announcing the first part of the LEEDS 2023 story, Part One: Awakening - our invite to the world to come and experience our city like never before.

Inspired by all the creativity we know our city holds, we’re aiming to ignite the artist within all of us and showcase the hidden stories of our city through a curated programme of exciting work with the people of Leeds and beyond. Working closely with partners nationally and internationally, we're putting Leeds firmly on the cultural map.

From art to architecture, dance to design, fashion to food and sculpture to sport, there’s something for everyone. Here is just a taste (quite literally) of what’s to come in Part One:

Creativity of epic proportions

We kick-start the year with our epic opening event of live performance with The Awakening at Headingley Stadium, and thousands of artworks, submitted by people in exchange for tickets, will be displayed in a pop-up exhibition Waking the Artist all over the city from mid-January-April.

World renowned visual artist Michael Pinsky and award-winning environmental architects Studio Bark are co-creating a bold public artwork Making a Stand in Leeds City Square inspired by the Forest of Leodis. The artwork will be animated by a series of events by Leeds Beckett University’s Leeds School of Arts students in 2023. East Street Arts are inviting street artists from around the world to Leeds in A City Less Grey - aiming to bring new and unique artwork to the streets and neighbourhoods of Leeds, starting in Burmantofts with a mural by Portuguese visual artist Add Fuel (April 2023).

A blue tiled mural scales up the side of a building by artist Add Fuel

Lineage by ADD FUEL. Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Blink Cincinatti. Photo by Diogo Machado. Courtesy East Street Arts

You are the creativity of Leeds

Created by WOW - Women of the World Festival Founder Jude Kelly CBE, The ‘WOW’ Barn a new temporary structure on Cinder Moor which will host an inspiring two weeks of discussion, music, performance and workshops for all ages. Working with WOW Festival, we are looking for 300 women and non-binary people to help raise The Barn. Applications open for Barnraisers this January, so get involved.

My World, My City, My Neighbourhood continues as we connect with artists and art organisations across Leeds to shine a bright light on the vibrant communities that make up our city. The first of these co-productions is a creative programme from Stand & Be Counted, a theatre group working with sanctuary seekers as part of Soap Box Leeds.

Slung Low and Leeds People’s Theatre are back, this time with a new film The Magician by James Phillip set in a dystopian Leeds featuring Oscar-worthy performances (we’re not biased at all) from a mix of professional and citizen actors (screenings 3rd and 4th March). Ever wondered what Leeds would taste like? Well now you can find out with Popeye Collective’s new condiment Leeds Sauce, celebrating the city’s food culture, it’s people, local food experts, chefs and farmers. Created for Compass Festival. Delicious!

A group of people are dancing in the street, with a woman looking directly at the camera smiling amongst the group

Mafwa Theatre. Photo by TribeFourFilms

Uncover the hidden stories of Leeds

Good news bookworms, Leeds Literature Festival returns with a special edition surrounding themes of untold stories, radical acts, playful adventures, and future generations (25 February to 5 March). From the generation that brought us punk - 1001 Stories celebrates the stories of our over 60s in this two-week takeover at Leeds Playhouse including Sinfonia – a new play of true stories that combines moments of joy and humour from Leeds people. Available to book now.

Leeds is set to be centre stage

Forget Paris and New York. International fashion designer and Professor of Fashion at Leeds Beckett University Matty Bovan, will make Leeds the fashion capital, showcasing the Class of 2023 from across Leeds School of Arts through a series of events in the project RUN (April to June 2023). And experience Leeds like never before through your headphones with As You Are, a soundwalk composed by South African-born cellist, composer and improviser Abel Selaocoe for the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North and special guests (30 March to 29 April).

Abel Selaocoe in Leeds Corn Exchange. Part of As You Are. Photo by Matt Davis

The programme also includes a vast communities and schools programme as we hope to reach and inspire a new generation of creatives throughout 2023. We can't wait for you all to join us for our Year of Culture.

Read the full press release here.

Project credits

The Awakening - Produced by LEEDS 2023. Supported by Leeds City Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and Bruntwood. Ticketing partner Ticketmaster

Making a Stand - Co-created by Michael Pinsky and Studio Bark. Produced and commissioned by  LEEDS 2023. Supported by Channel 4  and Leeds Beckett University

A City Less Grey - Presented in partnership with East Street Arts

WOW – The Barn - Presented in partnership with Women of the World Foundation and LEEDS 2023. Supported by West Yorkshire Combined Authority and CIVIC Engineers

My World, My City, My Neighbourhood - Produced by LEEDS 2023.  Supported by Arts Council England

Soap Box Leeds - Supported by LEEDS 2023, Culture Commons, Leeds Central Library and  Arts Council England.

Leeds Literature Festival - LLF is curated by a team of programming partners from The Leeds Library, Leeds Libraries, Leeds Big Bookend, Carriageworks Theatre, Strix magazine, the Hyde Park Book Club and MILIM. Supported by LEEDS 2023.

1001 Stories - 1001 Stories is a collaboration between The Performance Ensemble, Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Museums and Galleries and Leeds Older People’s Forum  as part of LEEDS 2023 Year of Culture. The project is funded by Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and The British Council.

Leeds Sauce – Presented in partnership with Compass Live Art

RUN – Presented in partnership with Leeds School of Arts, Leeds Beckett University

As You Are - Presented in partnership with Opera North, LEEDS 2023, Victoria Leeds and Leeds  Corn Exchange.

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