Monday 15th January
After an extended New Year break in Barcelona, it’s a great start to my working year as my first meeting is at the Civic Hall in Leeds to sign the papers to release funds from the Leeds Tech Hub. This is to allow us to develop Mary Studios, a new arts and tech hub – in collaboration with Invisible Flock – which just opposite our HQ, Patrick Studios, in Mabgate. It’s an exciting development for us and the neighbourhood, and we’re proud to be playing our part in helping to breathe some new life into it.
In the morning I meet with Karen and Jon, my two fellow directors of East Street Arts, at Café 164 in Leeds to see their newly renovated space and hear about their plans. The café is run as a successful business to support a gallery and it’s great to see how they’ve developed with art at the heart of what they do.
It’s then on to view a possible location for our second Art Hostel – we can’t wait to get moving on this after the success of the first one a couple of years ago – this is followed by meeting with our full programme team to go through the programme for the rest of the year.
My first call is with David Cook – former director of Wasps, one of the largest artists’ studio providers in Scotland – as he’s working with us as a consultant on our business model over the next few years.
A conversation that started on Twitter continues in person over a coffee with Rob Greenlan. It starts off about parking – which is becoming a bit of joke in the area with people now parking on the pavements, and god knows where next – and turns to social investment and the need for affordable social housing in the area.
Lunch is at Patrick Studios with theatre producers machina eX who are visiting from Berlin – along with people from the West Yorkshire Playhouse and other artists and producers from Leeds. They are producing a show as part of next year’s Transform festival, which we support, and are over to find out more about our city.
In the evening it’s the East Street Arts board meeting where we presented work and thoughts on the first ever artist-led neighbourhood plan in Yorkshire for Mabgate. This follows on from a workshop we ran late last year and it’s exciting to see this moving on.
Chips and beer at The Reliance with the team finishes off the day nicely.
I start with seeing with Stuart Clarke who runs the Leeds Digital Festival as I need to understand more about digital investment in the city region as part of my board appointment to the LEP.
My day also includes a planning application meeting about an extension to Mary Studios and a meeting with the Chief Executive of Emmaus, one of our Mabgate neighbours, about parking (again) and neighbourhood plans.
My first meeting of the day is a chat with Elmwood about a business accelerator hub they are developing and how we might be able to work together.
I then have another catch-up with machina eX as part of their research while they’re in Leeds – they want to know more about the infrastructure of cities for their research and it’s an opportunity to share more on the neighbourhood plan with them.
My last, but not least, meeting of the week is with Andrew Cooper from Leeds BID to talk about A City Less Grey phase two. People may know A City Less Grey from the UK’s largest mural which was unveiled on the Platform building next to Leeds Railway Station last year. We’re looking forward to more exciting projects from this later in 2018…