IGN Insights

LEEDS 2023 Year of Culture

Centre for Progressive Policy Danielle Jackson square 2023 07 13 133207 stdj

Danielle Jackson

Head of Inclusive Growth Network

I14 - masthead

West Yorkshire is highlighting the collective cultural offer of the region through Year of Culture events in each borough. This began in 2023 with LEEDS 2023 and Music in Kirklees, followed by Wakefield’s Our Year and CultureDale in 2024, and finishing with UK City of Culture in Bradford in 2025.

LEEDS 2023 has put inclusive growth at the heart of its mission, maximising the benefits of the event by:

  • Enabling local communities to celebrate what culture means through curating and delivering their own events
  • Equipping residents with the skills to access new opportunities
  • Delivering an impactful programme, building on the strong partnerships and senior endorsement established through a previous European Capital of Culture bid
I14 - icon

Empowering hyper-local culture

LEEDS 2023, an independent not-for-profit Year of Culture, is focused on ‘Letting Culture Loose’. They are supporting creative and cultural events in every council ward across the city, ensuring that every community can take part in making culture meaningful to them.

This hyper-local, grassroots-led approach has empowered people to define what culture means to them, resulting in events which reflect the city’s diversity and gives voice to often marginalised communities. It takes culture from big-ticket events in the city centre and places it in people’s neighbourhoods, whether it is a community sports event, a Bollywood dance performance, or a celebration of Yorkshire traditions.

Delivering long-term benefits through skills development

Through community roadshows, LEEDS 2023 engaged directly with residents about showcasing their neighbourhood and the wider city. This listening and learning exercise led to the recruitment of 33 Neighbourhood Hosts – one representative for each of the 33 wards in Leeds with the responsibility to work with their local community and create a local event as part of LEEDS 2023’s My Leeds Summer programme.

Every host was offered paid training in event organisation, from health and safety, to liaising with the Council on road closures, and promoting activities. By developing social capital and upskilling residents, the long-term aim is for this to unlock opportunities to organise events and support local culture in the future, either on a voluntary basis or through paid work.

"It’s a legacy for the city that there are people who have participated in this training and understand how to put on events, long after LEEDS 2023 finishes. These are people who will stay in the city and hopefully continue that work on the ground."
- Abigail Scott Paul, Director of External Relations and Strategic Partnerships, LEEDS 2023.


LEEDS 2023 events in local neighbourhoods have built capacity in the community, equipping residents with new skills to design and deliver events, with the potential for benefits beyond the end of 2023. This will lead to new opportunities for people, supporting inclusive economic growth and prosperity.

Photograph by Tim Dennell, CC BY-NC 2.0