£56m boost for city economy thanks to grants scheme

A grants scheme has helped cultural organisations in Leeds generate more than £56m for the local economy in just one year, new figures have revealed.

The arts@leeds project, run by Leeds City Council, gives arts organisations across the city financial support to create exciting events and activities in venues and communities.

Now evaluation looking at the impact of the project over a year has found that 41 organisations which received arts@leeds funding in 2018-19 generated a total of £56,799,450 of income for Leeds.

The huge programme of 2,331 activities delivered by arts@leeds funded groups over the same period also saw more than 126,000 people participate and were watched by a total audience of more than 1.4 million.

Alongside weekly advice sessions and workshops, the scheme gives small and medium-sized cultural organisations the chance to apply for annual grants of up to £4,000 and larger organisations the opportunity to apply for up to £50,000.

Recipients have included the Leeds Big Bookend, South Asian Arts UK, DAZL Dance and The Leeds Library, the oldest surviving library of its kind in Britain. Some of the larger organisations receiving funding have included Northern Ballet Theatre, Phoenix Dance and Opera North.

Skippo Arts, based in south Leeds were also among the grant recipients. Established in 1988 they have been developing creative projects for more than 30 years.

Skippo’s director Arthur Stafford said: “We are a small arts organisation based in Holbeck, South Leeds and arts@leeds is our sole revenue funder.

“The main benefit to us is the imprimatur arising from the grant and being an element of a diverse funding portfolio enables us forge creative links with bodies such as Leeds Libraries and Leeds Museums and Galleries.

“We generate 97 per cent of our income needs and for each £1 we receive from arts@leeds we generate a further £34. In 2018/19, we also welcomed 284,665 people to our workshop, exhibitions and events.”

As well as supporting local companies to develop cultural activities, arts@leeds helps organisations to access other forms of public funding from organisations including Arts Council England.

The arts@leeds scheme is also a cornerstone of the Leeds Culture Strategy, which aims to help the city’s culture sector to grow and put culture at the heart of all major policy decisions up to 2030.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Leeds has a quite remarkable network of cultural groups and organisations and a seemingly boundless capacity for creativity and invention.

“To make those ideas a reality, these organisations need the continued support and belief of those of us who want ensure that culture remains part of the heartbeat of Leeds and is at the centre everything we do both now and in the future.

“The arts@leeds scheme is an integral part of that ambition, offering not only a pathway to important funding, but also a link to the others in the arts community who can give advice, support and share ideas.

“The events and activities this gives them the freedom to create in turns supports inclusive economic growth across our city, has a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our residents and makes Leeds a better, richer and more diverse place to live, work and visit.”

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