Artists to Breathe Life into History of Busy City Centre Street

East Street Arts is pleased to announce two artists have been selected as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone Programme.

West Yorkshire based Harry Clayton-Wright and Leeds artist Yaku Stapleton will work with East Street Arts and a consortium of organisations to develop a programme that explores the past, present and future of an important high street in Leeds City Centre – New Briggate.

East Street Arts will work in partnership with Leeds City Council and Historic England and will lead a consortium of organisations which includes: Leeds Heritage Theatres, Opera North, North Bar and Brewing, Leeds Civic Trust, Age uk and The Churches Conservation Trust – all residents of (or around) New Briggate. Each artist will be placed in residence across the consortium members and will work with identified neighbourhoods that hold a connection to the high street on a co-created programme of events and activities.

New Briggate is the gateway to the city centre of Leeds – the start of the busy and bustling commercial and cultural high Street. With the oldest Church in Leeds, Saint John’s, bordering the high Street, New Briggate was a development of Briggate and became the home of Leeds Grand Theatre in 1878. Since then it has housed other world renowned cultural organisations such as Opera North and The Howard Assembly Room, as well as a fascinating mix of shops, bars, infamous nightclubs, takeaways, cinemas, afro hairdressers, trams and buses. The project will run over three years.

Harry is a performance artist, writer and radical creator whose work spans theatre, installation, zine and film. Harry will be collaborating with Marlborough Productions to uncover the untold Queer histories associated with this part of the City. They will explore submerged stories and how bringing them to light can create change in the present day. Through creative research the duo aim to envision what a genuinely safer high street looks like and feels like for LGBTIQ+ people in the city and work to make sure history is being made proudly and openly.

Leeds based Yaku will explore the history of performance on New Briggate taking a deeper look into community, fashion, clothing and costume that has been present here over the years. Yaku would like to reimagine clothing for the communities in Leeds today using sculptural processes, sound and working with dancers. Yaku specialises in fashion design and recently graduated from Leeds Beckett University with first-class honours.

Helen Moore, Engagement Lead at East Street Arts said: “We are delighted to have Harry and Yaku working with us on this exciting national programme, this is a great opportunity to explore the fascinating culture and history of New Briggate and work with the businesses that are residents of New Briggate and surrounding neighbourhoods.”

The programme will culminate with a celebration of what has taken place in the first 2 years, and will tie into city-wide events and activities already planned including Leeds 2023. The stories and histories uncovered will be imprinted on New Briggate and documented for future learning, whilst new memories are created by the communities involved.


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