A press article released today leaked details of a letter from Martine Reicherts, Director-General in the Commission’s Education and Culture Department to Sue Owens within the UK government’s DCMS department stating that the British application for the title of European Capital of Culture should be discontinued in light of BREXIT and the ongoing negotiations. Leeds 2023 have issued the following statement in response to this unprecedented event:
“We are hugely frustrated by the European Commission’s apparent proposal to remove the opportunity for a UK city to host the European Capital of Culture title in 2023. This announcement has been made after cities have submitted their 80 page bids and just four working days before the city was due to meet with the panel is shocking.
As a city, we have pursued this title with enthusiasm, diligence and determination, following the process to the letter throughout and to have the rug pulled from under us at this late stage would be a huge blow.
In Leeds we believe in a future where our culture in all its forms is valued and experienced by the broadest set of people, and for it to be central to the city’s identity and to its future – both economically and socially.
We have held urgent talks with the DCMS and other bidding cities today and we await further clarification from the DCMS regarding what steps we now need to take.
We remain fully committed to the excellent work that has already been carried out alongside our European partners to promote Leeds as a centre for cultural excellence and diversity and will continue to progress our ambitious strategy to put culture at the heart of everything we do as a city.”
Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council
Deputy Chair Leeds 2023 Independent Steering Group