Northern Ballet join Leeds Canvas as part of the Cultural Olympiad

August 10, 2011

Press Releases

Leeds Canvas Media Release

For immediate release

10 August 2011

Northern Ballet collaborates with 7 other key arts organisations 

Leeds becomes a canvas as part of Cultural Olympiad

The countdown to Yorkshire’s Cultural Olympiad activity begins today with the launch of the brand new Leeds Canvas website.

Leeds Canvas was selected in 2009 as the Yorkshire region winner of a £500,000 commission for Artists Taking the Lead, one of the major projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.  It is one of 12 commissions that will be realised across the UK, to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  The city of Leeds – its streets, buildings and people – will form the canvas upon which major artists will be invited to create something that will change the way people see, experience and understand the city. Leeds Canvas will reveal parts of the city we don’t know and reinterpret the parts we do.

Developed through Arts Council England funding, Leeds Canvas is committed to upholding the cultural legacy of the Olympic Games by continuing to deliver a high-profile arts commission in the region every four years.

The project is led by an exciting partnership between eight leading Yorkshire-based arts organisations; Opera North, Northern Ballet, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Yorkshire Dance, Leeds Met Gallery and Studio Theatre, Leeds City Council, and Leeds Art Gallery.  This is the first time they have worked together on a single project.

 Dominic Gray, Opera North Projects Director comments: “We are really excited about being involved in this project, which sees some of the region’s important cultural partners working together. Each organisation has a high national and international profile, attracting audiences and artists from all over the world and together we have the opportunity to show some of the unique cultural heritage that makes the North of England proud.  In collaboration as Leeds Canvas we can pool our resources to develop something truly unique.”

A strand of the project will see art development teams working with around 5,000 people from local communities to develop work that feeds into Leeds Canvas.

The new Leeds Canvas website presents the project’s vision, aims and legacy, as well as news and information about the arts projects themselves and the artists and organisations involved. It provides an interactive forum for people to ask questions and take part in building awareness and ownership of projects taking place in their city.  There will be blogs and a strong online presence to create a buzz ahead of 2012.

The first Leeds Canvas commissioned work will take place in May 2012, and involves the highly-regarded and quirky Quay Brothers: identical twins whose award-winning stop-motion animation films have won them worldwide acclaim.  Incorporating film, music and movement performed by local artists, they will explore the themes of chance, discovery and surprise. 

Talking about the project the Quay Brothers said: ‘For us it is a fabulous opportunity to use the city of Leeds as a vast scenographic space. We have the entire city to create an unexpected marriage between all these different artforms.’


Artists taking the lead is the UK Arts Councils’ flagship project for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Twelve extraordinary public art commissions are being created across the country, one in each nation and region of the UK, to help celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The winning commissions were selected by independent panels of artists and producers, and are funded by Arts Council England in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Wales.

Community Engagement information

In our Education and Outreach programme we will explore both the themes of Canvas 2012, the flow of people and water, and how we can use the arts to explore our sense of place, place as a canvas. Each of our individual education and outreach teams will incorporate both into their ongoing educational work, and for Leeds Canvas we have commissioned three community groups in the city to create projects which celebrate or reference places that are important to them.  They will be realised with support from the eight Canvas arts organisation between October 2011 and May 2012. We will be announcing details of who will be involved shortly.  

Partner information

Leeds Canvas is the first collaboration between eight of the city’s key arts organisations Yorkshire Dance, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Phoenix Dance, Opera North, Northern Ballet, Leeds City Council, Leeds Met Gallery and Studio Theatre and Leeds Art Gallery.  A core team came together to bid to become the Yorkshire region’s Artists taking the lead project and is now responsible for preparing the canvas for our lead artists the Brothers Quay.

The core team is supported by teams of specialists from our organisations responsible for education and outreach, and for marketing and PR.  As we begin to realise the Brother’s vision, more of our artistic and technical staff will become involved alongside the artistic team they are assembling. In order to deliver Canvas 2012, we have employed a small team of freelancers: including Lucie Conrad, Producer; Steve Dearden, Associate Producer; Tim Garbutt, Event Manager. Full details about each of the companies is and team is available on the website

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