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Leeds Central Library receives funding to research viability of arts space

  • Date: 25 March 2013
  • Area: North

Leeds library and information service has been successful in bidding for Arts Council Grants for the arts funding of £10,000 to research the viability of a multi-functional arts space in Leeds Central Library. The Libraries Grants for the arts programme was launched in September 2012 and this is the first award to be announced in Yorkshire and the first project to have a Research and Development focus.

There is significant potential to develop current Library space so that performing arts resources are joined into a performance 'hub'. A small-scale multi-functional, multi-arts space could be used as a programmed venue, an exhibition space, an educational space, a meeting and 'scratch' space for artists and a place of innovation for new work and collaboration in a way not available elsewhere in the city. Two million people visit Leeds Central Library each year and it would like to offer innovative and high-quality arts experiences to these visitors by introducing them to local arts organisations, practitioners and performers.

The service will test the viability of the idea by working with arts providers, community organisations, artists and practitioners and existing. They will advise on what is possible in the space, research potential audiences, help develop a future programming policy and make recommendations to support the professional development of emerging artists, in particular new writing.

Carl Clayton, Libraries Relationship Manager, Arts Council England said: 'The concept of developing space in Leeds Central Library into a small-scale, multi-functional, multi-arts space is strong and should work well in the context of the Leeds Central Library and Leeds Art Gallery complex which is already an iconic building. Leeds library and information service has decided to test and develop this through research which is a good example of evidence-based practice.'

Ann Day, Audience Development Manager, Leeds City Council commented, 'With a key focus on the development of new writing, spoken word and opportunities for the development of small-scale performance work, we hope to develop new audiences for the library itself, work with artists and arts or community organisations to develop ways of engaging wider audiences from our existing diverse customer-base and working collaboratively to develop work that reflects and relates to our untapped resources and helps us explore future ways of libraries working."