Leeds 2023 Awarded Significant Funding To Bring Leeds’ Heritage Stories to Life

Leeds 2023 Kirkstall Abbey

Leeds 2023 has been awarded £380,000 from the National Heritage Lottery Fund to develop creative projects showcasing the history and stories of Leeds’ communities and its people.

The grant was awarded to Leeds Culture Trust, the charitable organisation behind Leeds 2023. It made the case for the funding to support creative projects that are rooted in Leeds’ diverse and varied heritage.

Leeds 2023 has received the initial support for the hidden stories project. The Development Funding of £380,000 will help Leeds 2023 progress its plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.

Leeds 2023 Discovery Centre

“Undiscovered histories”

Whether it’s the City’s great innovators like self-taught civil engineer John Smeaton, its city parks or the undiscovered histories of Leeds’ communities, Leeds’ eclectic heritage will be front and centre throughout Leeds 2023. It’ll encompass and celebrate natural and industrial heritage as well as its cultural and grass roots elements. Major events throughout the year will attract visitors to experience Leeds in a new way. And local residents will see their own stories brought to life across the city.

Working with local heritage organisations, the Leeds 2023 team will seek to unearth hidden stories and develop creative ideas around them.  These stories will then provide a unique Leeds perspective as preparations for the landmark year of culture continue apace.

Kelly Tiara is Leeds 2023 Creative Director. She said: “We are obviously delighted to have been awarded the first phase of funding for this crucial element of programme development for Leeds 2023. We believe that by celebrating and discovering our own heritage alongside others, we can develop positive meanings and identities for a better future. Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, this gives us a very strong platform from which to move forward and to showcase Leeds’ heritage.”

Leeds 2023 Kully Thiarai, image credit Keith Kaselampeo

“Roots in heritage”

The successful bid was strengthened by independent audience research conducted on behalf of Leeds 2023. 70% of those questioned agreed that cultural and creative activities were good for the local economy. 79% were supportive of Leeds having a year-long celebration of culture. And 75% feel it’s important to learn about the history and heritage of Leeds. The full research report will be published later this year.

Planning on several projects is already well under way. And the grant money will enable the project to reach further into the communities. This in turn will make the celebrations as relevant and accessible as possible. Heritage and the arts, as well as sport and communities, will all be represented in the evolving programme.

Kully added: “Every Leeds 2023 project will have its roots in heritage. We fundamentally believe that there is not just one Leeds story. There isn’t a single strapline for Leeds which wouldn’t constrict some of us, even if it might liberate others. Our differences are to be celebrated and our complex histories embraced.”


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