Capital of Culture bid enters crucial phase


Today, with 100 days to go until the city of Leeds submits its bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2023, the University is backing a campaign encouraging people to pledge their support.

If Leeds is successful in its bid to become the European Capital of Culture 2023, the city will host a year of cultural events to showcase and celebrate art and culture. 

The University, with its rich heritage of creativity and culture, plays an important part in the cultural life of the city through the recently launched Cultural Institute, and is backing the bid as its principal academic partner.

The #MakeLeeds2023 campaign is asking residents, businesses and communities in the city to back the bid by making an online pledge to actively spread the word.

People can pledge their support by visiting Leeds’ bid website – – and by using the hashtag #MakeLeeds2023 on social media. The campaign marks the start of a programme of events designed to generate further momentum ahead of the submission of the bid on 27 October.

Sharon Watson, Chair of the Leeds 2023 independent steering group said: “Our European Capital of Culture bid presents a huge opportunity for Leeds to highlight and shout about its diverse population and reposition Leeds’ image in the UK and Europe.

“We want to ensure our bid is firmly focused on the people of Leeds, as our bid is for them. As such, it is important that we use the bid as a platform to bring people from across the breadth of our city and backgrounds together, promoting well-being and pride in our city.

“With the current population representing 140 ethnic groups and 170 languages, we firmly believe that a successful bid will create a lasting legacy, not only by implementing positive change by bringing these communities together and celebrating our diversity but also by attracting national and international funding and events to the city, providing a step change in tourism and a catalyst for growth and development.

“There are numerous events coming up to help rally support for the bid and we hope people get involved and submit their online pledges.”

Professor Frank Finlay, Cultural Institute Director and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, is a member of the Leeds 2023 steering group. He said: "This is an opportunity to promote the city on an international stage as a very vibrant, diverse and dynamic place to come and study, work and live." 

European Capital of Culture 

The European Capitals of Culture is an initiative designed to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe and raise the international profile of cities. 

The lead-time for the coveted title is long, with cities submitting proposals for consideration six years in advance of the title-year.

Together with Hungary, it has been agreed that a UK location will next host a European Capital of Culture in 2023, with deadlines for applications expected to be in the late autumn of 2017.

The successful city will be announced by the end of 2018.

Glasgow was European City of Culture in 1990 and Liverpool secured the title in 2008. Liverpool saw a £753.8 million boost to the economy and a 34% rise in visitors to the city.

Follow the progress of the bid and the #MakeLeeds2023 campaign on Twitter @leeds_2023

Further information

To mark the launch of #makeLeeds2023, more than 100 people from Leeds’ community came together at regional landmark and heritage building, The Tetley, to show their support 100 days before the final bid submission. The Tetley is at the heart of the South Bank, Europe's largest regeneration project, which will double the size of the city centre and create a new city centre park just in time for the city to host the title of European Capital of Culture, should it be successful. 

In addition to strong research and student activities, the University offers access to a host of cultural treasures:

  • The Brotherton Library’s outstanding Special Collections
  • Museums and unique archives, like The South Bank Show and the M&S Company Archive of 70,000 items dating back to 1884 
  • Art galleries, cultural venues, facilities for performance and art-making, such as our newly-refurbished School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies
  • An ever-expanding public art trail
  • Theatres and concert halls, including stage@leeds and in the students’ union, which is regularly voted one of the best in the country

For further information, contact the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 4031 or email