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Transforming City Square Into a hub of Creativity in 2023!

City Scapes Leeds City Centre. Credit Carl Milner Photography for Visit Leeds

Learn more about our latest Artist Commission and plans for City Square…

Public squares are at the heart of towns and cities all around the world. They’re a place to people-watch, to meet up with friends, to pass through on our way to the shops or just to be. They bring us together in a shared space and we live our lives around them. 

City Square in Leeds is one of those spaces. It’s the front door of the city with tens of thousands of people emerging from the train station, the busiest in the North of England, into the square every day. It’s often the first place that new visitors see when they come to our incredible city. If you live in Leeds then you may have heard about the plans for the square’s redevelopment, led by Re-form and artist Nayan Kulkarni, which will transform it into The Glade – a green and tranquil space for us all to enjoy.

And the plans don’t stop there. I’m really excited to be able to say that, before the major landscaping for The Glade gets underway, LEEDS 2023 will be taking over the square as a central part of our year of culture. We’ll be transforming the space into a hub of creativity for 2023, with lots of inspiring and surprising events for everyone to get involved in. 

This week we’ve announced a once in a generation opportunity for artists to be part of our year-long takeover of the square. We want to commission an epic temporary public artwork which will be a focal point of City Square during 2023, and applications are now open for people to apply with their ideas. We’ve been planning this for a really long time and I’m thrilled that we’re finally able to shout about it!

We want the artwork to be innovative, ambitious, and to showcase Leeds to the world. It should reflect our city’s heritage and history as well as our bright future, and should be a feat of art, engineering and science. As well as being an impressive artwork in its own right, it will also act as a temporary venue for events and activities throughout the year, such as live music, dance or creative workshops, which will be programmed in conjunction with students at Leeds Beckett University.

When I say that we’re looking for artists to apply, I mean artists in the broadest possible sense. We want to hear from architects and engineers, visual artists, theatre designers and creative organisations. I think the best ideas can come from when we collaborate and work together across our disciplines and I’m really looking forward to seeing what ideas and teams are formed. The opportunity is open to artists and teams around the world, but I’d love it if we got lots of applications from people with a personal connection to Leeds or West Yorkshire. 

I hope the new artwork encourages us all to see our public places and squares in a completely new way. They’re not just places to pass through on a busy commute or spend a quick ten minutes eating lunch; they’re somewhere we have ownership of, where we can experience incredible art and explore our own creativity.