Leeds Literature Ecology Review 2023

Leeds City Council commissioned a review of Leeds writing ecology in early 2023. This was, in part, prompted by Arts Council England colleagues telling us that Leeds was emerging as a key national hub for literature – so we wanted to learn more. In truth, the writing sector has been prominent in the city and region for decades (at least) and as the city’s cultural profile was increasing, nationally and internationally through 2023, this was a good opportunity for us to better understand the sector.

A key aim for the commission was to understand the dynamics and potential of literature and writing in Leeds as the Council proactively engages with partners to help realise major developments such as:

  • British Library North – increasing the profile of the British Library in the city
  • National Poetry Centre – ‘a new headquarters for poetry in the UK’.  

We recognise and value the writing sector in all its forms, shapes and sizes and the contribution it makes to the quality of life for all those who live, work, play and grow here. This commission aligns with the city’s Culture Strategy objectives - including:

  • For the city to value and prioritise cultural activity, utilising it as a means of improving the quality of life experienced by every person and every community in Leeds.  
  • For culture to build respect, cohesion and coexistence between and within communities and individuals.  
  • For people, whatever their background, to be supported to be creative through school, informal learning, training, volunteering and employment, ensuring that culture can be created and experienced by anyone. 
  • For Leeds to be nationally and internationally recognised as a liveable city, and a thriving, internationally connected cultural hub open to collaboration.  

We want to thank New Writing North for undertaking this work with us and all those who were consulted and contributed to this work. We invite you – the writing sector, the wider creative ecology and cultural advocates – to consider the findings and use this report as an impetus for consolidation, understanding and future development of the city’s creative sector.

Please note: The report included a section on recommendations to Leeds City Council – we have not published this here, but we will consider how we respond and share these recommendations with you over coming months.

Pam Johnson, Head of Culture Programme

Important Information