Some FAQs about what’s going to happen after Leeds council bosses rubber-stamp a report next week (18th March) recommending the city bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.
Q: Who’s going to run the bid?
A “strategic steering group” is going to be set up with an independent chair and the council’s culture chief, Cllr Lucinda Yeadon, sitting on it. The group is going to “advise on and oversee the development of the bid”.
Q: Is it going to be “the usual suspects”?
No. The report says specifically that the group would need to be chosen based on their “knowledge, skills and approach rather than for being ‘the usual suspects’”.
“Diversity will be important, not to tick a box but to ensure the bid benefits from the widest range of voices, ideas and perspectives.”
Q: So who’s going to appoint the steering group?
A small “selection group” chaired by Cllr Yeadon
That’s not very clear, but the steering group and the council will have to approve it once it’s been written.
Q: How will we know what’s going into the bid?
We won’t, until it’s been written and submitted. The council believes that some stuff has to be kept secret from other cities who bid.
“Leeds will be in direct competition with other UK cities therefore some elements such as budgets and artistic content of the final bid will have to remain confidential until after the bid submission,” the report says.
Q: So we won’t know what arts stuff is in there till it’s been decided?
Q: So do we get to say what that arts stuff should be?
Think of it as a trust thing.
“We would need to find a way by which those writing the bid can be trusted and empowered by the City to bid on its behalf,” the report says.
Q: Are we going to be involved then?
You’ll be able to help draft the city’s revamped cultural strategy (2017-30) …
And the “city-wide engagement” is going to continue, with a focus on the people who haven’t been aware there’s been a conversation going on.
Q: What conversation?
Keep up. The city-wide engagement and conversation of last year … about bidding.
“The spirit of the city-wide engagement would continue through the development of the bid,” the report says.
Proposals are going to be developed “for establishing a framework to further the spirit of citywide conversation, engagement and transparency” …
Q: Transparency? As in keeping stuff confidential?
Fair point. The report does admit that keeping stuff secret “may seem to present a conflict with our open conversation to date”.
Anyway, where was I? …. The engagement framework.
That could be stuff like “open access meetings hosted in different community settings,” possibly facilitated by councillors and “local cultural organisations.”
Q: To decide what goes in to the bid?
It doesn’t say. But given that what goes in to the bid is going to be kept secret …
Q: OK … What about the money? How much is it going to cost?
“How much to bid” or “how much to hold the events in 2023?
Q: How much to bid
But the council will still be “a minority funder of the bid in cash terms”, the report says.
There’s more detail in the “draft income and expenditure budget” for the bid that council bosses will be looking at next week …
Q: Excellent. What does that say?
We don’t know. It’s being kept confidential “in order not to release information publicly to competitor cities”.
Q: Ah! The competitors … And the money needed to hold the event?
A minimum of 20 million euros – which is the smallest amount anyone city has spent on it after they’ve won.
However much it ends up being, it’s going to mean a “very significant investment” for the council, the report says.
But they won’t be stumping up all the cash: they’ll be looking for contributions from the likes of the Arts Council, “Lottery distributors”, private sector sponsorship, trusts and foundations, European funding, earned income, philanthropy … and the Local Enterprise Partnership …
There’s a clearer picture of the costs in the “illustrative budget for the year (2023)” that council bosses will be looking at next week, but …
Q: Don’t tell me … it’s being kept confidential …
” … in order not to release information publicly to any competitor cities”.
You’re getting the hang of this.
Q: Hang on. What would happen if we decided not to do all this secrecy stuff and put the bid together openly as a city?
Don’t be daft. We’d run the risk of ending up with a reputation of being a city whose culture is so open and participatory and confident that it doesn’t feel it has to hide anything from the competition.