Sharon Watson to Chair the European Capital of Culture 2023 Leeds Bid

15 Sep 2015

We are very proud to announce that Phoenix Artistic Director Sharon Watson has been appointed chair of the steering group that will spearhead the European Capital of Culture 2023 Leeds Bid. The 14-strong panel, made up of a diverse mix of figures from the local arts, culture, business, education and political sectors, will now be responsible for deciding how to showcase the very best of Leeds to the judges.

Sharon said: “It’s a huge honour to be chairing the steering group and to be surrounded by so many talented and knowledgeable people as we take our first steps on the road to 2023.

“With the experience and love for the city and its culture that we’ve gathered here, I’m sure together we have the drive and the ambition to create a bid that will be a great representation of Leeds.

“It’s our intention to ensure this is a bid that belongs to the people of Leeds and which properly communicates how vibrant and diverse our different communities and cultural institutions are.

“Leeds is a city with so much to be proud of and this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us all to show that to the world.”

Joining Sharon on the steering group is Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council.
She said: “Our key ambition is for the bid to be truly inclusive, focusing on the people living in our communities so they genuinely feel it represents everything they love about their city. Only by capturing that pride and community spirit that can we ensure that the picture of Leeds we paint for the judges reflects what makes the city such a fantastic place to live, work and visit.”

She added: “This is the beginning of an exciting journey for Leeds and one that we hope will bring us all closer together as a city.

The winning city will host a range of cultural events with a strong European theme. The last UK cities to hold the title in the UK were Liverpool in 2008 and Glasgow in 1990 – campaigns which kick-started extensive regeneration and a boom in the culture and creative sectors within these cities.
With the help of a number of subgroups, the Leeds panel will now work to agree the vision, focus and themes of the bid before it’s submission to the judging panel near the end of 2016, with the final bid to be submitted by December 2017. The subgroups will focus on separate areas including cultural programming, marketing and communications, finance and fundraising, European partnerships and community engagement and will inform the main steering group.

For more information of the European Capital of Culture 2023 bid, visit:

Get behind the bid!