Back to Press
  • Share:

Ruth Pitt to chair new Leeds 2023 Trust

  • 26th November 2018
  • Posted by Leeds 2023

Media executive and former journalist Ruth Pitt will head up the new Trust that will deliver Leeds’ landmark cultural celebration in 2023,

Ruth recently played a key role in the successful bid to bring Channel 4 to Leeds and will now spearhead the creation of an ambitious, £35 million cultural programme of events and activities over the next five years.

She is currently director of the Creative Cities Convention and has previously run documentary departments for the BBC, Granada Television and Tiger Aspect Productions as well as her own independent television production company Real Life.

A former reporter and presenter at Yorkshire Television, she has been advisory chair of the Edinburgh International Television Festival, chair of the Nations and Regions Media Conference and is a former executive director of Screen England.

Ruth recently became a trustee of the Leeds Playhouse and brings a wealth of experience as a media and creative consultant, most recently helping shape Leeds City Region’s ground-breaking campaign to host Channel 4’s new National HQ.

Ruth will formally take up her new role in April 2019. A newly formed Culture Trust will advertise for additional board members in the new year and aims to recruit a Creative Director by Spring 2019 with the skills and expertise to develop an exciting programme culminating in the year-long Leeds 2023 international cultural festival.

She said: “I’m incredibly proud and excited to have been appointed to a role that I know will be crucial to shaping both the cultural landscape of Leeds and perceptions of our city, both nationally and globally, for many years to come.

“Leeds is home to a huge network of talented and diverse communities with enormous untapped creative potential. Those communities will be at the heart of Leeds 2023 and we must be bold, innovative and ambitious in giving them a platform to express what culture means to them.

“There is already a big national buzz around Leeds, with the Channel 4 move set to bring hundreds of jobs to the city and its creative sector growing at a tremendous rate. We have some of the finest arts institutions in Britain, we’re passionate about our sport and the cultural life of both the city and the wider region is awesome.

“If we use that energy to engage our communities and harness the enthusiasm that has already begun to build around Leeds 2023, together we can find a collective voice that will reach across the country and the rest of the world.”

The new Leeds 2023 Trust takes up the baton from the Leeds 2023 Independent Steering Group, originally set up three years ago to progress the city’s European Capital of Culture bid and the subsequent development of the new Leeds 2023 cultural festival following the referendum vote to leave Europe.

As planned, the steering group will now start to hand over the project to the new Leeds 2023 Trust, which will be an independent organisation with its own artistic leadership.

Sharon Watson, outgoing chair of the steering group, said: “It’s been an absolute honour to chair the Leeds 2023 steering group over the past three years and the people I’ve met and stories I’ve heard have given me more belief than ever that Leeds has an incredible cultural journey ahead of it.

“I’m also delighted that Ruth has been appointed to lead the Leeds 2023 Trust. Her passion for culture and commitment to helping Leeds reach for the stars shines through and I’m confident that the future of Leeds 2023 is in very safe hands.”

Once the new organisation’s trustees have been fully appointed, artistic and cultural activity will begin in 2019, with the trust commissioning and producing artistic work and cultural projects in partnership with local, national and international organisations.

The festival itself in 2023 will showcase the unique cultural life of Leeds and bring the best global arts to the city, providing a catalyst for attracting visitors, jobs, new skills and economic growth.

Funding for the project will come from a mixture of grants, donors and sponsors along with £12million from Leeds City Council over the next five years.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “We’re very pleased to welcome Ruth to her new role and it’s testament to our city and its cultural offering that we have attracted a chair with so much knowledge and experience.

“This is a huge step in realising the vision of Leeds 2023 and I look forward to seeing this unique celebration take shape over the coming months and years. I would also like to say a heartfelt thank you to Sharon Watson and all those who have given so much to the independent steering group. Their tenacity and love for the city have laid an exceptional foundation upon which Ruth and the trust can now build something truly special.”


  • Board recruitment – January February 2019
  • Creative Director recruitment April 2019
  • Build up programme from 2019
  • Formal launch Spring 2020


For press enquires contact Stuart Robinson, Tel: 0113 378 9182, Email:

Image: Ruth Pitt, photograph by Mark Bickerdike