Leeds Canvas wins £500,000 London 2012 Cultural Olympiad commission Arts Council England and London 2012 announced today (Thursday 22 October) that Leeds Canvas has been selected as the Yorkshire region winner of a £500,000 commission for Artists taking the lead, one of the major projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Leeds Canvas was selected by an independent panel of Yorkshire artists and producers from the five projects shortlisted in August out of a total of 133 regional entries.
The winning project will transform Leeds. Internationally acclaimed filmmakers and artists the Quay Brothers (pictured) will use the entire city as the ‘canvas’ for a series of art interventions and installations, building up to a spectacular one-off event centred around the city’s Dark Arches. The project will be led by a partnership comprising Opera North, Northern Ballet Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Yorkshire Dance, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Leeds Met Gallery and Studio Theatre, Situation Leeds, Leeds City Council, and Leeds Art Gallery.
Leeds Canvas is one of 12 commissions that will be realised across the UK over the next three years, each inspired by their location and celebrating the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. There is one commission for each of the nine English regions and the nations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Leeds Canvas can’t wait to get started on the project. Yorkshire Dance’s Executive Director Wieke Eringa (pictured above, far right), on behalf of the partnership, said: ‘Leeds Canvas is delighted to be given this unique opportunity to breathe life into this exciting collaborative project which we plan to build on for many years beyond 2012. We are deeply thrilled about the possibilities created by working with these inspirational, internationally renowned artists, and look forward to working with the people of Leeds and beyond to make it an unforgettable, enchanting experience. Leeds will never be quite the same again.’
The Quay Brothers said: ‘Initially we were both frightened and yet flattered by this invitation to be the first directors of the Leeds Canvas. For us it is a fabulous opportunity to use the city of Leeds as a vast scenographic space. We have the entire city to create an unexpected marriage between all these different artforms.’
Nima Poovaya-Smith, Chair of the selection panel, said: ‘All the shortlisted projects were exceptional but the powerful and highly imaginative vision of Leeds Canvas and the unique partnership at its core, that includes the city of Leeds’ leading cultural organisations all working together for the first time, made it a compelling choice. Led by critically acclaimed artists with a worldwide reputation, the winning project will give individuals and communities across the Yorkshire region the opportunity to be actively involved in and enjoy the arts. Using the characteristic features of the urban landscape in Yorkshire, Leeds Canvas will be a celebration of our region presenting unexpected art in unexpected places. Through the programme presented in 2012 and in future years, it will also build a meaningful legacy of major cultural commissions in the area.’
London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe said: ‘The winning commissions will be the catalyst for a truly national showcase of culture inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Each project will explore the nation and region’s creativity as part of a UK-wide celebration of London 2012.’
Chair of the Leeds Cultural Partnership Councillor John Procter said: ‘We are delighted that Leeds has been chosen as the regional focus for this major cultural commission to help mark the Cultural Olympiad. We are very excited about the prospect of all the main cultural organisations in Leeds coming together supported by the talents of local performers of all ages and the genius of the Quay Brothers to produce something truly memorable and spectacular. We look forward to everyone in Leeds and beyond enjoying the displays as Yorkshire joins in the celebrations for the Olympic Games coming to Britain.’
For further information see the Artists Taking the Lead website.