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Leeds University pushes for wider cultural engagement

Alice O’Grady, Robin Hawkes, University of Leeds vice chancellor Alan Langlands, James Brining and Garry Lyons celebrate the new deal Alice O’Grady, Robin Hawkes, University of Leeds vice chancellor Alan Langlands, James Brining and Garry Lyons celebrate the new deal
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Leeds University has launched a new culture-focused arm with the aim of widening arts participation in the city.

The Cultural Institute will also seek to do “pioneering” research with cultural partners, as well as creating more opportunities for students to develop artistic skills.

Vice chancellor Alan Langlands said people “can’t rely on science alone” to build a better society, claiming it was the university’s “civic responsibility” to widen people’s access to cultural activity.

Speaking at a launch event for the institute, he said: “We are determined that, wherever possible, our research should deliver benefits to society and the economy and have a profound impact on and relevance to people’s lives.

“The challenges we face have cultural dimensions and solutions – we can’t rely on science alone, every part of the university has to pull together to tackle issues of global concern.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Opera North and Phoenix Dance Theatre are among partners who will work with the university to drive up arts engagement in the city.

Ann Sumner, head of cultural engagement at the institute, said Leeds had a “wealth of renowned cultural institutions, uniquely enabling us to build on their rich artistic innovation and cultural aspiration”.

The university itself will hold a series of public arts events, a number of which will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Arts Council England chair Peter Bazalgette is among those who have praised the initiative.

He said at the launch event: “I applaud the leadership that universities such as Leeds are taking in promoting their relationships with the creative and cultural sector to enrich the lives and life chances of everyone – particularly young people.”

Leeds University is the principal academic partner in the city’s bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2023.

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