2023: The Bid Revealed!
Over the last few weeks we’ve interviewed some of the people working at Leeds Beckett who are helping shape and influence the bid programme. Here we chat to Sam Nicholls from the School of Film, Music & Performing Arts about his input into the Artistic Programme, Leeds Beckett’s part in the process and the potential of 2023 to transform the city as we know it.
Sam ‘Whiskas’ Nicholls, Senior Lecturer in the School of Film, Music & Performing Arts, has been a part of the Artistic Programme Steering Group since its inception in September 2015. Chaired by James Brining, Director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse and featuring a diverse range of representatives from charities to corporate players, this group have been tasked with setting the agenda for the cultural content of the bid.
A lot of people were involved from the start, Sam says: “We are very different in the scope of our consultation. We’ve heard that other cities just put a few bid writers in a room and knock it out in a couple of months. We have a panel of 80 people from across the city and it has taken us years. It has made the process more challenging, yes. But hopefully the end result is representative.”
The scope of collaboration involved has meant that decisions were often hard-fought: “We bickered and argued for what we felt was important for the diverse artistic community to represent. Then Leanne Buchan (Leeds City Council) did an excellent job of representing it in a coherent manifesto. And it really flows together across our four themes: Fabric, Fear & Belonging, Voice and Room. It’s great.”
“As a partner, Leeds Beckett University plays a unique role in this process. Our university has 600-700 music students, staff and students taking an active role in music across the city, as well as having a major venue on campus. So we play a part in cementing the role of music in the city in that way. But we’re also unique in the way we work with so many different types of people and organisations: colleges, festivals, commercial organisations, charities, radio stations, professional musicians, students. So we can open up those networks and act as advisors and facilitators to the process as well as being active participants. And as a university we have a national profile, we have the ability to shine a light on what’s going on in the city. As well as providing a base and JAMES accredited facilities for individuals to create from.”
27 October sees the city of Leeds handing over our Bid Book – the result of 3 years and 8 months of hard work and collaboration from key influencers in arts, culture and business across the city.
The Bid Book outlines 50% of the proposed Artistic Programme and will include more than 40 projects covering dance, music, visual art, theatre, large-scale installations, festivals and architectural projects.
Among the projects suggested in the first phase of proposals is a full-size lighthouse on Leeds South Bank and the ‘I Predict A Riot’ festival which will be curated and run entirely by primary school age children.
Leeds will find out if it has been shortlisted early next year, which will trigger a second phase in which the panel’s feedback will be taken on board and improvements and developments made. The chosen city will be announced in Spring/Summer next year.
So what’s the impact for the city? “Potentially it could be massive,” says Sam. “Even if we don’t win the bid, the knock-on effect simply from having all these people working together for all these years in the build-up has meant conversations are happening. There’s a momentum that can only be carried forwards in a positive way for arts in the city. There’s definitely a desire for change, to make music integral to Leeds, in attracting major artists and as well as nurturing our own talent and music organisations.”
'Education backs the bid' L-R Andrew Fryer, Dean of the School of Film, Music & Performing Arts, Leeds Beckett University; Simon Thorpe, Director of Studies Professional & External Development, Leeds College of Art; Frank Finlay, Executive Dean, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, and Cultural Institute Director, University of Leeds; Gerry Godley, Principle & Chief Executive, Leeds College of music.
What can we do to support?
You can support the bid by signing the pledge (link) and coming down to Bid Day celebrations at Quarry Hill on October 27. There will be a street party and open house festival full of food, music, dance, theatre and art from 12-8pm featuring organisations including West Yorkshire Playhouse, Northern Ballet, Yorkshire Dance, Phoenix Dance, North Brewing Co, Leeds Indie Food and Leeds College of Music. Our very own staff/student music collaborations Cat-Una and Leeds Music All Stars will be performing on the day.
Our university will host a talk with DVC Tracey Lancaster, Anita Morris and Cluny MacPherson at the Rose Bowl, City Campus on Tuesday 7 November. All welcome to come and find out more about the Bid and the exciting next stage. Book your free place here.