Thursday, 10 July 2014

Council committed to cultural gems

Councillors have today voiced their support for a new start for the city’s cultural gems.

With potential options for new management arrangements for the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd. on the table, councillors are set to take decisive action when they meet next week.

Members of the council’s executive board are being asked to approve a wide-ranging review for the future direction of the company which manages the Grand Theatre, the City Varieties and Hyde Park Picture House.

If approved, the council will explore the possibilities of managing the organisation in-house, moving to a single independent trust, handing over to a commercial operator or to retain the status quo.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“The time is right to review how we manage some of the best cultural assets in the city. We’ll be examining the options available to us and reports that come back to us very carefully so that the most effective model of operation is adopted.

“Our minds are firmly set on supporting the city's cultural assets so that they have a secure and stable future. With the unprecedented financial challenges we’re facing, it’s vital that the Grand is on a secure financial footing and that it has a sustainable future.

“The Grand plays an incredibly important role in the city’s history and we’re keen to ensure that future generations can enjoy and benefit from its rich and diverse programme.”

The full report outlining the potential options for the Trust’s future can be found at

For media enquiries, please contact:
Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 39 50244

Leeds set to host events to coincide with the national Festival of Archaeology

Caption: Curator of Archaeology, Katherine Baxter, holding an ancient Cypriot barrel jug in Leeds Discovery Centre. © Leeds Museums and Galleries

The fun, mystery and delights of archaeology are to be celebrated in this year’s Festival of Archaeology later this week.

As part of the Festival of Archaeology 2014 (Sat 12 – Sun 27 Jul), Leeds Museums and Galleries will be providing a range of events to enjoy at sites across the city for people of all ages.

Kicking off the festival is a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) themed workshop, which will provide those people with a passion or interest in historical investigations with a chance to participate in a number of activities using real human remains from the archaeology collections. Held at Leeds Discovery Centre this event is suitable for adults and children aged 7+ this event will be held on Saturday 12 July from 10am-12noon.

Since opening in 2008 Leeds City Museum has continued to celebrate a number of continents, and as part of its Ancient Worlds gallery, there is also the chance on Wednesday 16 from 2pm-4pm to handle money both ancient and modern, from places and regions across the world.

The atmospheric 12th century Cistercian ruins of Kirkstall Abbey have seen their fair share of interesting and intriguing stories over the years, and on Thursday 24 July from 10-11.30am, this family event sees the chance to have a go at making make clay tiles that once adorned its floors hundreds of years ago.

Leeds has a proud industrial history, find out more about its heritage and archaeology as Leeds Industrial Museum and its landscape is explored and clues uncovered on these hour long tours on Saturday 26 July at 12noon and 2pm. In addition, on Friday 18 July 10am-12noon, Leeds Industrial Museum will also host a drop-in family event that explores how industrial buildings are excavated, with a chance handle real objects from the collections and explore how technology has developed from the Stone Age to the present day.

There are approximately 25,000 individual artefacts in the Leeds Museums and Galleries’ archaeology collection which includes Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities as well as native British, European and archaeological material. The archaeology collections enable Leeds Museums and Galleries to engage and excite people about their local and national heritage, as well as to explore ancient civilisations across the world. The collection is the most varied and comprehensive collection of archaeological objects and archives representing the lives of people in the Leeds area. As part of a packed education programme offered at all museum and gallery sites across the city, archaeological objects are regularly used and groups are very welcome to request tours of the Leeds Discovery Centre to see the archaeology collections currently residing behind the scenes.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

"The Leeds Museums and Galleries archaeology collection is absolutely fantastic, and we are delighted to play our part in the festival starting on Saturday where a range of objects, pieces and artefacts will be showcased.

"There is a lot on offer, including a CSI themed Discovery workshop at Leeds Discovery Centre and landscape tour around Leeds Industrial Museum, and we hope anyone with a passion or interest for archaeology will take part.

“Given the sheer size of our archaeology collection it is simply not possible to display absolutely everything, but the good news is that if you book a tour of our Leeds Discovery Centre, this will offer a great flavour of what we have in our collections."

Notes to editors:

Booking is essential for some events, please check the website for details;

Leeds Museums and Galleries is Leeds City Council’s family of nine museum sites across the city and is responsible for looking after the collections of fine and decorative art, fashion and textiles, industrial and social history, natural science and much more. Housing and caring for Leeds' fantastic collections, the Leeds Discovery Centre is a state-of-the-art storage facility and centre for learning and exploration. All are welcome to visit the Discovery Centre for research or to see its unique resources. Leeds Discovery Centre is located 1.5 miles south from the city centre, near to the Royal Armouries Museum. Come along every Thursday for drop in tours showing the fantastic objects we hold (11am and 2pm) or book an appointment for a group tour (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm). Leeds Discovery Centre, Carlisle Road, Leeds, LS10 1LB.

Leeds Museums and Galleries’ archaeology collection: The historic core of the collections is made of objects collected by the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society between the early 19th century and 1921, when the collections were transferred to the care of the Leeds City Council. These include high quality objects such as sculpture from Greece and the Greek islands, marbles from Italy, and a range of Egyptian objects including the mummy of the ancient Egyptian priest Nesyamun. There are also a number of important objects from Leeds itself, including fragments of the Anglo-Saxon Leeds Crosses, and the recently acquired West Yorkshire Hoard, made up of Anglo-Saxon period gold. Consequently the archaeological collection not only covers many thousands of years of history and prehistory but also represents a wide range of cultures and civilisations around the world.

Leeds Museums and Galleries still actively collect archaeological material today, in accordance with ethical guidelines. Most of the objects collected now are local and come in from development-led excavations within Leeds Metropolitan District – for example, excavations were carried out when the Bramham to Wetherby bypass was upgraded in 2007. Leeds Museums and Galleries also collect objects through the Treasure process and from members of the public who find objects in the local area, and report them to the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
The Festival of Archaeology 2014 runs from 12-27 July. Co-ordinated by the council for British Archaeology, the Festival offers over 1,000 events nationwide, organised by museums, heritage organisations, national and country parks, universities, local societies, and community archaeologists.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Superb line-up set to light up Kirkstall Abbey as part of Classical Fantasia

Caption: (Top to bottom) - Tenor Noah Stewart, soprano Laura Wright and saxophonist Amy Dickson are all set to perform at Classical Fantasia. Picture credit Amy Dickson - Chris Dunlop.

The Cistercian ruins of a much loved abbey in Leeds are once again set to host an outdoor classical musical event to remember.

Organised by Leeds City Council, tickets are now available for the annual Classical Fantasia concert, which has been refreshed for 2014 to include a fantastic line-up to entertain the crowds in the atmospheric surroundings of Kirkstall Abbey on Saturday 6 September.

Artists set to perform this year include tenor Noah Stewart, soprano Laura Wright and saxophonist Amy Dickson, who will be accompanied by one of the UK’s leading chamber orchestras, the Manchester Camerata.

Making his bow at Fantasia is one of opera's most talked about tenors, Noah Stewart. Born in Harlem, New York, Noah has also recently performed international debuts in Spain and Russia. His debut album, the critically acclaimed ‘Noah’, which mixing classical tracks with contemporary material, reached number one in the UK Classical Chart. Joining Noah is Laura Wright, who with over one million album sales to date is one of the biggest selling classical artists of the decade. Still only 24-years-old, Laura, who is also the official anthem singer for the England rugby team, has toured with stars including tenor Alfie Boe, Russell Watson and opened for Andrea Bocelli. Her new album will be released in the autumn.

Grammy-nominated classical saxophonist Amy Dickson, earned the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Classic Brit Award in 2013, after her album Dusk & Dawn released in the same year, achieved a number one spot in the UK Classical Charts. Amy, who is also an ambassador for the Princes Trust, will be releasing her latest album ‘A Summer Place’, in August.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

"The historic grounds of Kirkstall Abbey are truly spectacular, and we are delighted to say that Classical Fantasia will once again be returning this year for what is always a great evening of entertainment.

"A great line-up of fantastic artists, including Noah Stewart, Laura Wright and Amy Dickson has been assembled to entertain the crowd, and as always the event will culminate in a firework finale that really is something not to be missed."

The repertoire will feature well known and much loved pieces of classical music including opera and musicals and, in what is now a customary part of the show, the abbey will once again be illuminated and culminate in a spectacular firework finale. Gates for this year’s event on the 6 September which is supported by media partner the Yorkshire Evening Post, are scheduled to open from 6pm, with the main performance set to begin at approximately 8pm.

Tickets are available from Friday 11 July to purchase online at or in person / by telephone from City Centre Box Office in The Carriageworks on Millennium Square (0113 224 3801) and Leeds Visitor Centre at Leeds Train Station (0113 242 5242). Tickets will also be available to purchase in person only from the Abbey House Museum.

Tickets are priced at £10 for LEEDSCard, £8 for LEEDSCard Extra holders and £5 for Breezecard holders. General admission is £15 and there is also a special discount for groups of friends and family between 5 – 10 people for £10 per person. Advanced car parking tickets will also be available to purchase at £5 per vehicle.

Early bird discount for all general admission tickets are also available at £10 for all purchases made before the end of July.

New for 2014 a special VIP ticket package is also available. Priced at £100, the package includes tickets for four people within a reserved area directly in front of the stage, a set of garden table and chairs, priority queuing and a car park pass.

Enhanced facilities for disabled attendees will also be available this year, including a BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter and a hearing loop audio enhancement system within a designated accessible viewing area, a Changing Places high dependency unit and a new access bus service to and from the event to the car park. Anyone requiring further details or have accessibility queries regarding the event contact the events team on 0113 395 0891 or email

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon continued:

"We are also pleased to be able to provide additional facilities and services for the disabled at this year’s event, including a designated accessible viewing area with an induction hearing loop and a Changing Places toilet.

"Classical Fantasia is one of the highlights of our outdoor programme of events, and as always we would ask people to book their tickets as soon as possible."

For further details visit or contact Leeds City Council’s events team on 0113 395 0891 or by email at

Notes to editors:
A booking / transaction fee will apply to bookings made online or by telephone.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578