Leeds 2023 is delighted to announce the appointment of Mark Hollander as the organisation’s executive director.
Mark was the exceptional candidate in a very strong field and will take up his post in the first quarter of 2020.
His appointment follows that of creative director Kully Thiarai who will begin work with Leeds 2023 in January. “I couldn’t be more thrilled that Mark is joining us,” Kully says, “he has a deep knowledge and commitment to Leeds and its arts sector. I’m looking forward to working with him on creating an extraordinary year of culture for Leeds 2023 that delivers a lasting legacy for all the communities of this great city”.
Sharon Watson, artistic director of Phoenix Dance Theatre where Mark has been executive director since 2016, says “What a bittersweet moment for Phoenix Dance Theatre. Since Mark’s appointment in 2016 the company has been on an incredible journey. We have broadened our creative output both on and off the stage, presented work at international platforms and collaborated with partners for the very first time. We wish Mark all the best at 2023 and look forward to celebrating his appointment with him.”
Leeds 2023 was originally the city’s bid for European Capital of Culture status before the Brexit referendum result halted progress. In a terrific acknowledgement of the social and economic value of culture in any city region, Leeds City Council decided to keep its original core funding pledge of £12m in place and Leeds 2023 has now been established as the independent Leeds Culture Trust, charged with raising considerable additional funds and delivering an incredible year-long festival of culture in 2023.
The Leeds Culture Trust will work in partnership with a wide range of artistic, creative, business and community groups to ensure local involvement, creative ambition and global reach. “The groundwork has now been completed and we begin ramping up our plans in early 2020,” says culture trust chair Ruth Pitt, “and Mark is the perfect person to deliver a fantastic investment programme leading to a year of culture that will change the way people see Leeds forever.”
During Mark’s tenure at Phoenix Dance Theatre he has helped develop the Company’s international ambition, with Phoenix performing in Cannes, Germany and China, and has overseen the production of Windrush: Movement of the People by Sharon Watson, The Rite of Spring by Jeanguy Saintus and Calyx by Sandrine Monin as well as revivals; Beast by Douglas Thorpe, NightLife at the Flamingo by Edward Lynch, Maybe Yes Maybe, Maybe No Maybe by Aletta Collins and Shadows by Christopher Bruce CBE.
“I am proud, excited and privileged to take up the role as Executive Director of Leeds 2023,” says Mark. “This is an opportunity to give something amazing back to Leeds after the city has creatively enriched my life over many years. I am thrilled to be working with Kully and the team to ensure the expression of our city’s unique cultural life is experienced by all, in astounding and lasting ways.”