New Centre for Culture and the Arts launched at Leeds Met
Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre in London and former Artistic Director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Jude Kelly OBE, delivered the keynote speech at the event, held at the University's Rose Bowl.
The Centre for Culture and the Arts aims to act as a hub within Leeds Met for collaborative research across the University, promoting participation in culture and the arts, challenging the current climate in which the arts are increasingly becoming reserved for the privileged, and developing links locally and nationally with arts and cultural institutions and the University's partner organisations, which include the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Leeds International Film Festival, the Leeds Library and Yorkshire Archaeological Society.
Ahead of her keynote speech, Jude Kelly OBE said: "Universities play a key role in providing research, knowledge, history and legitimacy to cultural organisations. We're always looking at what the live cultural experience is but what universities do is to look at both the historical and modern context in which culture exists: understanding where culture comes from and anticipating new trends: all of which is an amazing partnership that universities bring.
"I opened the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 1990 and its burning mission was to create a theatre that was a community space for everybody to feel that the fictional stories on-stage and the real-life stories off-stage could meld together. You could really say 'this theatre belongs to Yorkshire people' and, as a result, belonged to the world.
"During that time, I saw Leeds shift in all kinds of ways: the theatre was definitely a catalyst but the universities came together to create a mission with other leaders in the city to put the city in a place of visioning for the future. Having a huge student population automatically brings a creative fervour to a city and I see Leeds changing all the time. I think Leeds strives forward as a city that represents the idea of cultural democracy."
Director of the new centre, Dr Susan Watkins, commented: "We have had lots of success with our research in the area of culture and the arts at the University: 55% of our research in communication, culture and media studies has been judged to be either world-leading or of international standard by the last national research assessment exercise; but up until now we haven't had a centre to promote and act as a focus for this work.
"The launch event is an opportunity to: find out more about the research going on in the Centre - the projects we are working on and the forthcoming events that we're sponsoring; meet the staff involved; hear a talk by Jude Kelly; and network with others involved in the arts and cultural industries in Leeds."
Scholars based in the Centre have published work on cultures of gender and sexuality; postcolonial cultures; cultures of environment, space and place; celebrity culture; subcultures and crime, deviance and dissent; class and social inequality; practice cultures in the visual arts, filmmaking and music; cultural policy and planning; and cultures of the body.
Current projects include the Heaton Project, which will produce a guide to locations in Leeds connected to the Leeds physician Dr John Deakin Heaton (1817-1880) and mentioned in his Journal. The guide will comprise a map interface with content plotted at specific locations using map pointers.
Jude Kelly OBE founded both Solent People's Theatre in 1976 and Battersea Arts Centre in 1980 and was the founding director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse. In 1997, she was awarded an OBE for her services to theatre; she has directed over 100 theatre and opera productions from the Royal Shakespeare Company to The National Theatre and the Châtalet in Paris.
In 2002 Jude founded Metal, which provides a platform for artists in community contexts, with bases in Liverpool, Southend-On-Sea and Peterborough. Jude led the cultural team for the successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic bid and then served on the board of the cultural Olympiad.
A new Hub for Writing in the Digital Age has already been set up within the Centre as a home for writers and writing and a number of public events hosted by the Centre are taking place over this academic year: including the Media and Place conference on 11-12 July, which will celebrate the launch of a new media masters course at the University, and the Thinking Dance symposium on 7 - 17 July.
For more information on the centre please visit www.leedsmet.ac.uk/cca.