Cultural experts from across Europe gathered in Leeds as the city celebrated its most colourful annual arts spectacular.
Leeds City Council, in collaboration with the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds’s cultural sector, welcomed 98 of the continent’s top cultural experts, representing 58 different cities to this year’s EUROCITIES Culture Forum.
With the theme of ‘celebrating diversity through innovative cultural partnerships’, the event coincided with Leeds’s spectacular Light Night event, which saw illuminated installations from across the globe transform some of the city centre’s most recognisable buildings and locations.
Delegates were given the chance to find out more about the city’s collaborative approach to ensuring that increasingly diverse audiences are provided with an equal access to culture.
The forum also demonstrated how the city encourages people from all walks of life to become artists and cultural practitioners.
The forum heard a keynote speech by Kully Thiarai, creative director of Leeds 2023, who described how Leeds 2023 will embrace the rich diversity of Leeds and shine a light on thriving arts and culture in communities across the city.
The delegation also shared the initiatives and practices which take place in their home cities with cultural organisations across the city.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said “It has been a pleasure to host the EUROCITIES Culture Forum in Leeds and to have welcomed our friends and colleagues from across Europe. We are immensely proud of our diversity in Leeds and the contribution of our diverse creators, cultural leaders and audiences to culture and the creative industries. This Forum has been a brilliant example of how we work with our partners across the city to ensure Leeds is recognised on the map as an international capital of culture”.
Jaana Jalonen, chair of EUROCITIES Culture Forum and member of Espoo city council said “We really enjoyed our visit to Leeds and experiencing first-hand the cultural vibrancy of the city. There is no doubt that Leeds has a high quality cultural offer and a broad variety of partners who work hard to deliver comprehensive and inclusive activities which the whole city can enjoy. We are already looking forward to returning to Leeds!”
EUROCITIES was founded in 1986, it is the network of major European cities. Members are the elected local and municipal governments of major European cities. Today, they bring together the local governments of over 140 of Europe's largest cities and over 45 partner cities, governing 130 million citizens across 39 countries.