Leeds was in the spotlight last week when the city scooped the prestigious EUROCITIES award for co-operation after wowing the judges with a pledge to harness culture and creativity to transform the city’s economy through its work on Leeds 2023.
At last week’s awards, which were part of the EUROCITIES conference held in Edinburgh, the judges were looking for cities which had demonstrated “effective partnerships between city departments, stakeholders, private partners and other cities to harness creative talent and assets to generate cultural and creative opportunities for citizens.”
Originally formed as a bid to win the title of European Capital of Culture, the Leeds 2023 project saw organisations across the city forge innovative new partnerships across Europe and collaborate on an exciting programme of events, activities and initiatives.
After the European Commission’s decision in November 2017 to cancel the UK European Capital of Culture competition, the city came together and vowed to develop a transformational, five year cultural investment programme which will culminate in a high profile international arts festival in 2023.
Awarding Leeds the prize for cooperation, judges said: “Leeds 2023 harnesses both the massive city-wide cooperation and overarching ambition behind the bid – to transform Leeds’s cultural landscape and the city’s economy using culture and creativity.
“The city is continuing to take the inclusive community and partnership approach that characterised its bid as it sets about this task by, among many other activities, co-creating cultural proposals with people in the most deprived areas and deepening European and international connections.”
Then added: “Brilliant things can come from a tenacious spirit and collaboration”
This was the second time in recent years that Leeds has scooped a EUROCITIES award, with the city coming top in the participation category in 2016 for its Migrant Access Project.
Alongside Leeds as EUROCITIES 2018 award winners were the cities of Oulu in Finland and Ljubljana in Slovenia. Oulu won the prize for participation for its “Chaos challenge” project that asks citizens each year to come up with ideas to help make Oulu more attractive for 15-29 year olds. Ljubljana won the prize for innovation for its “RogLab” project that connects and supports entrepreneurs and creative, and offers a space to co-create and prototype new ideas.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Officer for Culture and Sport, Cluny Macpherson, ran a packed speed-networking session on the topic of Leeds 2023, sharing his experience with cities from across Europe. The Leader of the Council, Cllr Judith Blake was part of a panel of representatives from Edinburgh and speaking about the role of culture in place-making.
Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, accepted the award and said: “It’s an incredible honour to see Leeds 2023 rewarded for its work bringing people and organisations across the city together and unifying them behind a truly transformative common purpose.
“This application showed how the spirit of collaboration around a single over-arching ambition, along with a shared enthusiasm for our city’s culture has been at the heart of Leeds 2023 from the outset. To see that recognised with this award is a huge endorsement not only for what we have achieved together so far, but for everything we’re striving to accomplish over the next few years.”
Below is the film we created for our award nomination, this was produced by local film companies, Studio 12 and MOJO Film.
Leeds kept a high profile throughout the two day conference, with the Chief Officer for Culture and Sport, Cluny Macpherson, ran a packed speed-networking session on the topic of Leeds 2023, sharing his experience with cities from across Europe. Councillor Judith Blake was part of a “creative conversations” panel of representatives from Edinburgh, the German city of Muenster and the French city of Toulouse. The panel discussed the role of culture in place-making and Councillor Blake cited the positive effects of Channel 4’s decision to move their headquarters to Leeds. The partnership between Leeds and Hangzhou in China was also presented as a case study of a successful Europe-China city link at a EUROCITIES meeting of European cities who are interested in building connections with Chinese cities.