Last week a group of 25 cultural leaders were in Leeds at the invitation of the British Council. The group was made up of cultural programmers, producers, practitioners and artists from Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, the Caribbean and South America. They were in Leeds to attend Arts Council England’s WILD conference and to get an introduction to the best of British culture.
Following the two day WILD conference, which was hosted by Leeds based cultural organisation Slung Low, the delegates spent a day getting to know more about Leeds. They were accompanied by officers from the council’s international relations and culture teams on a whistle-stop tour of the city centre. They were able to learn about the city’s international population and its history of welcoming migrants from all over the world. They were given an overview of Leeds Museums and Galleries, the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds’ ambitious plans for a year of international culture in 2023.
As part of the visit, the delegates were able to experience the Yorkshire Sculpture International festival, including a visit to two installations by Leeds raised artist Damien Hirst which are currently in the Victoria Quarter and on Briggate.
Following their tour of the city centre, the group headed down to Northern Ballet, taking in the newly built Leeds City College, the renovations of Leeds Playhouse and Leeds College of Music on the way. At Northern Ballet they were given an insight into the work of Northern Ballet and Leeds Dance Partnership, which brings together the many successful dance organisations within Leeds into a “dance hub”.
The visitors were impressed with the scale and breadth of Leeds’ cultural ambitions, and the impact that Leeds2023 will have on Leeds communities as well as the cultural sector. We are hoping to keep in touch with them with a view to bringing new international cultural collaborations to the city.