Culture, Sports and the Arts all represented as Leeds 2023 announces its board of trustees

Leeds 2023 has unveiled its board of trustees, bringing together a wealth of expertise from across the arts, academia, business, marketing, popular culture and sport.

To be led by Culture Trust Chair Ruth Pitt, the trustees have been appointed to work alongside Leeds 2023 Executive Director Mark Hollander and Creative Director Kully Thiarai, both due to take up their posts early in 2020.

As well as providing individual specialisms and expertise to support the world-class, inclusive and diverse Leeds 2023 cultural programme, the trustees also bring business and commercial experience covering key governance duties such as law, accountancy and education. A wide range of community interests are represented.

Leeds 2023 was originally the city’s bid for European Capital of Culture status before the Brexit referendum result halted its progress. But in a resounding endorsement of the social and economic value that culture can add to a city region, Leeds City Council opted to keep its original core funding of £12m in place. Leeds 2023 was duly established as the independent charity Leeds Culture Trust and charged with raising the additional funds required and delivering a 12-month festival of culture.

As the trust awaits the arrival of its new creative director Kully Thiarai and exec director Mark Hollander early in the New Year, the core festival team is already starting to develop partnerships with a wide range of artistic, creative, business and community groups to ensure local involvement and creative talent can be realised alongside the ambition to reach a global audience and shine a cultural spotlight on Leeds.

Chair Ruth Pitt said she was delighted with the breadth and depth of talent that Leeds 2023 had attracted to its board, saying: “I believe we have the perfect mix of experience and personalities needed to guide the trust through the next three years of planning and then delivering an amazing cultural programme. This is on a scale Leeds has never seen before.

“We have youth, sports, the media, performance arts and education all represented on our board, which is truly inspiring and just one example of the collaborative approach we’ll be taking tap into the many amazing talents that exist across our city region.” 

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and former deputy chair of Leeds 2023’s Independent Steering Group said: “It’s exciting to see the extraordinary breadth of talent, knowledge and experience that’s joining the Leeds 2023 team and for the council to be playing such an important role in taking this ambitious project forward.

“Leeds 2023 has been on a remarkable journey already and throughout that journey, our shared commitment to culture and unshakable belief in the difference it can make to our city and its communities has never wavered.

“I look forward to continuing to work alongside Leeds Culture Trust and to seeing the incredible passion and endeavour of everyone involved in helping to bring the vision of a game-changing new cultural festival for Leeds to life.”