#coleeds … Something New on the Leeds Cultural Scene


Kirsty Ware, (@gazpachodragon), wants to fill the gap that she has noticed in the Leeds cultural scene …

Tuesday evening saw the first meeting regarding what will hopefully become something pretty special in the Leeds DIY and grassroots arts and culture scene.

Tess and I first met a few months ago, when we ended up talking on twitter about the gap in the Leeds culture scene for people to connect. People wanting to try their hand at putting on an event but not knowing where to start, artists having exhibitions ready but no space, venues desperate for something different but not sure how to find the right artist. People who run successful events in Leeds hitting a ceiling of how much they can market themselves, and promoters going to the same sources every time.

The discussion led to the re-emergence of an idea I’d had a few years ago – a DIY festival celebrating all those events, groups and people that don’t normally get the spotlight, and a network that anyone can tap into to create unexpected but meaningful collaborations, shared resources and an engaged audience. Tess brought the idea of linking up people to share skills, so an artist could get advice from an events management student, groups could swap interests – such as a book club reading a local writers’ group’s work – and venues and larger organisations could share their resources with the skills and passions of people with nowhere to go.

Armed with a vague idea of ‘something like this could be good’, and a notion of an event to showcase what was great but normally under the radar, we organised an open meeting. It was a small, but passionate turnout, and we discussed what was missing in the city and how we could link up with existing organisations to create something that didn’t replicate or try to compete, but something that anyone and everyone could find a useful tool, and an event to celebrate and promote that. People noted that a day-long event would mean trying to cram a lot in, and that an ‘umbrella festival’ that links together a week or even month of events might work better and allow more people to get involved, alongside showing off how much goes on in Leeds in an average week.

The networking side of the discussion showed that there is a real desire to engage, but there seems to be an outlet needed to bring it all together – whether it’s an artist looking for a venue, a performer looking for a projector or someone looking for a way to get involved. Whether this would be a forum, a virtual noticeboard or monthly meetings, we need to find out how people want to engage to enable us to set this up.

This is where you come in. We need feedback, from everyone. If you’re an artist, how can we help more people see you? If you’re a venue, how can we help you use your space in exciting ways? If you’re audience, how can we bring stuff to you in a way that nobody else does? What’s missing in the culture scene of Leeds? If you have any ideas, any feedback, any suggestion of what we should be looking at, please do let us know.

They are massive questions, and it’s nothing we think we can solve on our own; but for every question there’s an answer, and if we can help link the two together, we could do something special.

You can contact Tess and Kirsty by emailing collaborationleeds@gmail.com or by tweeting them @tess_hs and @gazpachodragon and using the hashtag #coleeds


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