Organisers of a controversial street arts event held in Leeds earlier this year have hit back at critics who labelled the happening a waste of money.
Billed as a vibrant re-imagining of the city, the event has been under occasional relentless fire for the last six months for not catering to the general public.
But NOW an evaluation carried out for the organisers by a team of leading street arts event evaluators has revealed it was in fact a GREAT SUCCESS.
The evaluation found that the event:
ENGAGED with a whopping audience of 20,000 diverse residents, many of them out shopping from hard-to-reach postcodes such as LS6, LS7 and LS8
SWELLED arts footfall and regeneration spend seven fold over three days at the event site in Lower Briggate
INCREASED the appetite for inclusive, edgy, quality art in the city by a stunning 78%
RAISED Leeds from 8th to 3rd in the European table of Cities with Regeneration Arts in Shopping Streets (Euro-CRASS)
BROUGHT participating local artists 82% further out of their comfort zone than they’d ever been before
SHOWED how art can transform a public space in a way that gives life to local sustainable development objectives (e.g. shopping)
“Language of the city”
“We’re naturally delighted with these findings,” said a spokesperson for the Leeds-based organisers. “It’s particularly pleasing that so many of those who engaged with the event feel it was a cultural ambush that has already slipped into the language of the city.”
Asked about future plans, the spokesperson said: “We know times are tight, especially for the arts, so we’re humbled to have been given free rein to carry out further outdoor collaborations of even riskier work – this time with multiple layers of interpretation (see panel for example) to help drive audience engagement.”
“It’s understandable that people worry about the value for money of an arts event like this. One way we plan to set their minds at rest is by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our arts community partnership working and civic arts enterprise capacity building through the appointment of a chief executive, a project manager/coordinator, an assistant producer and two comms people – one strategic, the other hands-on.”
Positive feedback from “word cloud”
People who attended the event were surveyed for one word that would describe the event for them. The “word cloud” (on the right) shows the results, with the biggest words being the ones used most frequently.
As the organisers claim (with understandable pride), it’s a pretty positive picture overall, with “wiggly”, “green” and “inflatable” the three words that sprang most to the audience’s mind.
A spokesman at Leeds City Council said the event was a great response from the Leeds arts community to challenging times and was on target to bring immeasurable economic and reputational benefits to the city.
“While we’d like to stress that we had absolutely nothing to do with organising this event at all, we’d be happy to see it repeated next year – maybe next time with a display of twigs in the shop vitrine.”