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Monday, April 22, 2024

Bradford’s City of Culture year receives £6 Million boost despite opposition

Combined Authority approved £6m grant for Bradford City of Culture

Bradford’s City of Culture year has been awarded £6m by a West Yorkshire authority, despite a Wetherby Councillor voting against the grant.

Members of West Yorkshire’s Combined Authority approved the funding at a meeting on Thursday – but one Conservative leader argued such events should not get public money.

Bradford 2025 is expected to cost around £42m, and so far millions have been awarded to the event by Bradford Council, the Government and the Arts Council.

Combined Authority members were asked to approve £6m of funding towards the year at a meeting on Thursday.

A report to members said the investment “represents very high value for money.”

It also said the year had “cross party support.”

Leader of the Conservative Group, Leeds Council, Cllr Alan Lamb. Image: Leeds Council

But at the meeting Wetherby Cllr Alan Lamb, leader of the Conservatives on Leeds Council, said he would be voting against the funding.

He claimed Leeds’ year of culture, which took place in 2023 and had WYCA funding, had not been a major success, and questioned public bodies funding cultural events.

Referring to Bradford 2025, he said: “This is something that should be delivered without putting pressure on the taxpayer.

“Bradford could use this money in much better ways at the minute.

“The Leeds culture year was not a success, it could have been done better and it could have been done without taxpayers money.

“Leeds Council cancelled culture that people enjoyed every year for one off events they could enjoy once.”

West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracy Brabin. Image: Wikipedia

Ms Brabin said: “I disagree with your assessment of what did and didn’t work.”

She pointed out she had attended an event at the University of Bradford the previous day that looked at the positive impact of cultural events on wellbeing, jobs and regeneration.

She said: “The public sector has a role to play in this.”

Bradford Council Conservative Leader, Cllr Rebecca Poulsen. Image: Bradford Council.

Cllr Rebecca Poulsen, the Conservative leader in Bradford, had a different view to Cllr Lamb, saying: “I hope you will approve this funding, and I hope that it will benefit the whole of the Bradford District.

“There have been concerns that the year might be very city centric.

“I’m waiting to hear the programme, and I hope it will benefit everyone across the District.”

Ms Brabin said she was committed to making sure the year benefitted the whole of West Yorkshire as well as the people of Bradford.

Cllr Stewart Golton, Leeds Liberal Democrat leader. Image: Leeds Council

Cllr Stewart Golton, Liberal Democrat leader in Leeds, also referred to the Leeds year of culture, adding: “The legacy of that year is in some dispute.

“But what I have seen about how Bradford is being organised is that it is being organised on a completely different premise. There seems to be a lot of care to ensure a significant legacy with a lot of investment in cultural infrastructure. It think it will benefit from being associated with the official City of Culture model.”

Members then voted to approve the funding.

Dan Bates, Executive Director of Bradford 2025. Image: Bradford 2025

After the meeting Daniel Bates – Executive Director, Bradford 2025, said: “West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s investment is another huge vote of confidence in our ambitious plans for Bradford 2025. This is Bradford’s time, and we are preparing for the biggest and best ever celebration of Bradford’s culture in all its forms.

“The continued commitment to culture from West Yorkshire leaders is making waves nationally, drawing attention to the diverse talents and cultural heritage here and the investment in skills and training in our cultural infrastructure will have a lasting benefit.”

Mr Bates spoke to the Local Democracy Reporting Service about City of Culture earlier this week.

He said the programme of events is due to be announced this Autumn.

Major partners in the event will include the National Science and Media Museum and Bradford Live – where numerous City of Culture events will be held.

He said he had recently attended a cultural event in London where groups across the country were eagerly discussing the plans for Bradford. He added: “It is nice for so many people to be talking about Bradford.”

Explaining the benefits, he said: “You’ll have more people out in Bradford shopping, eating, drinking – it will help everyone in the long run.

“Not everything will be in the city centre, we’ll have big projects across the District – there will be plenty in Keighley, Shipley and other areas. We want to move people around the District – get them out and about to see what there is.”

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