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Leeds Live
Mellissa Dzinzi

Leeds to get 'crucial' multi-million pound investment in 2023 that will leave a 'lasting legacy' of history and hidden stories

Leeds 2023 has been awarded more than £2.1m that will be "crucial" in developing creative projects, and show the history and hidden stories across the city.

Leeds 2023 was one of seven projects nationally to share £13.7million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, aimed at supporting nature, communities and cultural recovery post-pandemic.

For the project, Leeds Culture Trust received £2,120,130, and it will be used to unearth individual and community-based stories, bringing them to life in original and engaging ways.

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A spokesperson for Leeds 2023 said stories are already emerging across the city, including Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley which has been working with poet Matt Abbott to explore the hidden stories of the Mill and its local communities which has led to new poetry being created and readings at the Mill.

In Otley, a series of craft workshops “The Day The Elephants Came to Town” started from an historical event that took place in the popular market town. Storyteller and artist Vickie Orton researched and uncovered new facts, working with community groups to give the story a new lease of life.

Photographers Lens Lab Leeds have also been working with faith communities in Leeds, including Mill Hill Chapel in central Leeds, United Hebrew Congregation in Shadwell and the Al Hassan Centre in Harehills, to start exploring faith and faith-based spaces in the city.

They hope that the stories will attract visitors and engage audiences to experience Leeds in new ways.

Lens Lab Leeds at an event at Mill Hill Chapel (Leeds 2023)

LEEDS 2023 Creative Director and CEO, Kully Thiarai, said: “The LEEDS 2023 team is delighted to have been awarded this latest funding which will play a crucial role in developing these original and exciting projects. As an organisation we are absolutely committed to revealing and celebrating the diverse stories and the great heritage of our fantastic city. One of our greatest strengths is our diversity and this project helps to amplify all those voices and celebrate our differences.

She added: “This funding is a huge show of confidence in LEEDS 2023. We are getting ready to deliver an exciting and uplifting programme that will delight audiences of all ages and backgrounds, but that will also leave a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy and learn from. Heritage is so much more than just buildings, statues or artifacts and we want to celebrate the people and the communities that have helped to shape Leeds into this amazing city.”

David Renwick, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Being home to many diverse and vibrant stories, Leeds has a heritage that is very much deserving of a celebration like Leeds 2023. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to be supporting this fantastic programme that truly puts people at its heart, and will share the city’s amazing heritage far and wide. We know that heritage is a great way of bringing people together and creating a sense of pride of place, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how that all comes together at Leeds 2023.”

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