Leeds City Region outlines vision for culture and heritage

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and partners are working together to unlock the full potential of culture, sport and major events as a driver of growth and wellbeing across the region.

With the tourist and leisure economy worth £9 billion a year to Yorkshire and the Humber, the LEP has commissioned work to assess how culture can play a greater role across the region and how it can be integrated into other activities to maximise impact.

This work builds on the LEP’s unique position as an advocate for culture and its ability to bring together local and national partners from the cultural, heritage, sporting and events sectors.

Roger Marsh, OBE DL, chair of the LEP and NP11 group of Northern local enterprise partnerships, said: “Our cultural and historical assets, heritage, parks and countryside, and sporting and major events are incredibly important to Leeds City Region. They underpin our leisure and tourism economy as well as bringing people together, creating a shared sense of pride in our region and contributing to the excellent quality of life that makes it so attractive to live and work here.

“As Chair of the Piece Hall Trust in Halifax, I have seen first-hand the enormous positive impact that cultural assets can have. The restoration of the Piece Hall has been an incredible investment, adding £26 million to the local economy since the it reopened in 2017 and kick-starting wider regeneration.”

Working with partners, the LEP has developed a City Region Cultural Framework and outline Vision document considers how cultural opportunities can be developed or where it can add value to other programmes.

Pete Massey, Director North – Yorkshire & The Humber for Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted to be working with Leeds City Region in partnership with National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England and Yorkshire Sport to make sure that arts, culture, heritage and sport can make the fullest contribution possible to the economic and social wellbeing of the City Region.

“This new cultural framework enables the City Region to exploit the full potential of culture and represents an innovative new approach to partnership working between local authorities, the culture heritage and sport sectors and cultural funding bodies.

“It’s brilliant that Leeds City Region recognises that our cultural infrastructure sustains and grows our places, just as digital and transport infrastructure connect them. Arts and culture, heritage, sport and libraries create places that help individuals flourish, and that bring communities together.”

The Framework is designed to be used by the LEP and other partners to make sure culture is considered when other activities are being planned. The City Region’s ambitions for its cultural Framework and Vision include ensuring more people take part in cultural activity and using culture to offer different routes to develop skills.

It will also emphasise the how the City Region’s cultural offer contributes to a great quality of life, support cultural businesses to maximise their potential and increase visitor numbers and spending, and increase in employment in culture, sport and arts roles across the City Region.

In developing the Cultural Framework and Vision, the LEP has worked with West Yorkshire Chief Executives and Local Authority heads of culture, as well as cultural funding bodies including Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, and Yorkshire Sport/Sport England.

The impact of cultural assets across Leeds City Region

Circus at the Piece Hall

The Piece Hall, Halifax

Halifax’s Piece Hall has already attracted over five million visitors since reopening in 2017 after a £22 million, four-year restoration and is regenerating the town and wider region. The Grade I-listed 18th century cloth trading hall has generated £7 million a year by direct employment, events and retail activity at the site, providing £5.30 of value for the local economy for every £1 spent on operating the Piece Hall.

The Hepworth, Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield, which opened in 2011, has quickly established itself as one of the UK’s most popular and successful galleries attracting quarter of a million visitors a year and was named Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2017. The Hepworth is a central part of the regeneration of Wakefield waterfront, which combines offices, commercial, residential, retail and public space.

Tour de Yorkshire

The Tour de Yorkshire has firmly established itself as a major international cycling event and significant source of tourism for the region. The 2019 Tour de Yorkshire was watched by over 28 million viewers in 190 countries, showcasing the best of the region to a global audience. Over the course of the event, 1.96 million spectators lined the route, a significant number of whom were from elsewhere in the UK and abroad, boosting the region’s economy by £60 million.

Yorkshire Sculpture International

The inaugural Yorkshire Sculpture International, a major new sculpture event across 4 galleries (Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Hepworth Wakefield, Henry Moor Institute & Leeds Arts Gallery) which took place over 100 days in 2019, attracted 1.5m visitors; 58% of which were from outside the region and generated significant national and international media coverage.

Bradford Live

The Combined Authority and LEP are providing £325,000 of Growth Deal investment to the Bradford Live project, which will redevelop the iconic 1930s' art deco Bradford Odeon cinema into a world class entertainment and business venue. When completed, Bradford Live will hold over 200 events a year, attracting 300,000 visitors.