Set as part of their Creative Event Design module by Leeds 2023 Steering group, Community Engagement, more than 180 first year students were asked to create and pitch an event that would highlight the unique, distinctive and little-known cultural gems of Leeds and bring ‘culture’ to a diverse audience.
Dr Julia Calver, Senior Lecturer in the UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM) at our University, explained: “In groups of five or six, the students were asked to submit two original ideas that they felt fit the brief, but were not a stereotypical representation of the city or region. It was important that their event ideas had a strong narrative, were layered with experiences and would fully immerse the audience.
“Following feedback from the initial submission, the groups had to select one idea to develop and improve upon which would then be showcased at the end of year event expo - an interactive exhibition assessed by tutors and attended by industry representatives.
“The results were incredible - it was an extremely positive and productive end to a very busy semester! Event ideas submitted included a midnight ballet on the lake in Temple Newsam and theatrical booths on Briggate to raise the awareness of young people and alcohol. We had some fabulous feedback from our industry guests, which of course, opened up further discussions on how we can continue to engage with and support the Leeds 2023 bidding process.”
Industry representatives who attended the event included Leeds City Council, NatWest and RJC Dance Company. Dale Sidebottom, Entrepreneur Development Manager at The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, and event attendee, said: “It was fantastic to see so much young talent at Leeds Beckett University. Creating an event for the Capital of Culture in Leeds is no easy task, but the range of ideas and creativity on display was extremely impressive. Judging was difficult on both sessions. It was great to give the students feedback and award some prizes for the most entrepreneurial category.”
Awards were handed out for the most quirky event, the most memorable and the one people would most like to see. Speaking about the students’ work, Nicola Greenan, Chair of the Community Engagement Group, commented: “It was a real privilege to help support this module and engage students in the topic of Leeds bidding of European Capital of Culture. I was so impressed with the results; some of the students looked at tackling some really challenging issues. It was great to see that the students had taken time out to research the city and understand it better."
Michelle Lanham. Senior Lecturer in UKCEM and module leader, summarised: “Witnessing the ideas and event concepts that our students have developed this year was an absolute privilege. Defining culture in a way that is inclusive and engaging across many different types of audiences is a complex task for anyone to tackle, so to see our students work so hard to continuously innovate and develop their ideas over the semester was inspiring.
“Through innovate event ideas they pitched ways of opening conversations about mental health, LGBT issues and social depreciation, as well as shining light on the wonderful personality of the city of Leeds and the people in it.'
The European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the EU for a period of one calendar year during which it organises a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension. It provides the chosen city with an opportunity to breathe new life into its cultural image, boost tourism and raise its national and international profile.