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Leeds 2023 announces the appointment of Abigail Scott Paul as director of external relations

  • 12th March 2020
  • Posted by Leeds 2023

Leeds 2023 is delighted to announce the appointment of Abigail Scott Paul as its director of external relations.

Abigail will join creative director Kully Thiarai and executive director Mark Hollander in a new position taking a lead on the company’s communications and partnerships activities. Kully Thiarai, creative director of Leeds 2023, said: “Abigail was the exceptional candidate in a strong field, her background, skills and experience are remarkably aligned with what we want to deliver for Leeds. I’m looking forward to working with her and Mark on creating an extraordinary year of culture for Leeds 2023.”

Abigail is currently deputy director of advocacy and public engagement at Yorkshire based social change charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). During her eleven-year tenure there, Abigail has designed and led JRF’s public engagement strategy, including its award- winning Talking about Poverty programme, to shift public thinking about poverty and build support for change. She has been instrumental in telling a new story about people and places trapped in poverty, working alongside journalists, tv documentary makers, writers, photographers and other cultural partners to put people with direct experience at the centre of their own storytelling. Over the past few years, Abigail has been working closely with the Leeds Poverty Truth Commission and collaborated with them to produce the film Fighting Shame with True Vision Yorkshire and Guardian Films. Prior to that, she worked alongside BAFTA nominated Sean McAllister, curator of Made in Hull, to co-produce the critically acclaimed BBC 2 documentary A Northern Soul. Recently she commissioned and produced Picture Britain: Our People Our Poverty – a new photographic exhibition by renowned photographer Jillian Edelstein for JRF and Comic Relief which opened in London in February and will tour the rest of the country in 2020.

Speaking on her appointment, Abigail Scott Paul said:

“I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of working alongside Kully, Mark and the inspiring Board of Trustees to put Leeds firmly on the cultural map. It’s clear there’s already a buzz in the city about Leeds 2023. I want to make sure we harness that energy, and collaborate effectively with partners and communities right across the city and beyond, to make Leeds 2023 the success story we all want it to be. I can’t wait to get started!”

Commenting on the appointment of Abigail Scott Paul to be director of external relations at Leeds 2023, Claire Ainsley, executive director of Joseph Rowntree Foundation said:

“We are truly excited for Abigail, but will be really sad to see her leave JRF. Abigail has played an instrumental role in championing, designing and leading all of our work to build the public’s will to solve poverty, and she has blazed a trail not just at JRF but in the UK for her techniques in driving social change.

“Having now taken the public engagement strategy to the British public with the launch of the Picture Britain exhibition, she has a fantastic legacy, with people with direct experience of poverty at the centre of telling their own stories.

“Abigail will be missed as a colleague but we are thrilled for her new role, which will use the creativity and dynamism Abigail has brought to JRF to Leeds’ international year of culture in 2023.”

Abigail’s appointment strengthens Leeds 2023’s commitment to raising the city’s profile and to tell Leeds’ story powerfully, locally, nationally and internationally.

Abigail will take up position at the beginning of May 2020.


For press enquires please contact Jennifer Gridley, or 0113 511 2023


Image: Abigail Scott Paul, courtesy of Joseph Rowntree Foundation