Leeds 2023 Year of Culture could start with ‘family friendly’ outdoor concert at Headingley Stadium

Organisers are plotting a massive outdoor concert to kick off a 12-month program of cultural events, at the city’s rugby league ground on January 7. The show would be “family orientated” and would feature dancing, music, poetry and “specially commissioned film ”, According to a licensing application submitted to Leeds City Council.

If given the go-ahead, program bosses say the show would be free to attend and would also be “broadcast live to a wider audience” to those who can’t be there in person. The Year of Culture is being set up to celebrate and promote all Leeds has to offer across art, music, theater and literature.

The city had originally bid to become the European Capital of Culture for 2023, but Brexit ended any chance of a UK city being awarded the title, under contest rules. As a result, Leeds is holding its own celebration across the year anyway.

The show will be directed by Kully Thiarai, creative director and chief executive of LEEDS 2023, and Alan Lane, artistic director of Slung Low (Photo: Jemma Mickleburgh)

A decision on whether or not the proposed opening show can take place is likely to be made next Tuesday, at a public licensing hearing. One objection has been tabled against the event taking place, which appears to have been made on behalf of a number of the stadium’s neighbors in Headingley.

The written submission, which has been anonymised by the council in advance of next week’s hearing, said: “We oppose this application, as residents in the surrounding area, we have concerns regarding the music volume levels, lights, generators, abuse of the surrounding area in relation to taxis and parking, amongst other concerns.

“Unfortunately, our concerns and reasons for the opposition of the application are founded in experience of increasing events being held at Headingley Stadium with absolutely no consideration of the distress and inconvenience caused to the local community.”

In its application form, the Leeds Culture Trust said it wanted to serve alcohol. But it insisted the event would take no longer than two hours and said: “Given the anticipated profile of this event being predominantly families, the risk of anti-social behavior from those attending the event is deemed as low.

“However, the event organizer will work with West Yorkshire Police and the security and stewarding provider to ensure suitable security deployments are in place. No admittance will be permitted to the event to any person under the age of 18, unless accompanied by an adult. “

The trust has also asked for flexibility to move the show to another date between January 5 and January 16, in case “external factors”, such as very bad weather, make it impossible to host it on January 7.

A panel of three city councilors will have the final say over whether or not the event can go ahead in its proposed form.

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