MAJOR funding from Arts Council England will help to open up arts and culture to some of the most disadvantaged areas in Bradford.

The £2 million investment means the city will become one of the body’s new Creative People and Places locations.

Bradford’s programme is called The Leap and over the next four years aims to generate 100,000 new attendances at new arts and cultural events. The bid was led by the landmark Born in Bradford (BiB) project.

Professor John Wright, Director of the Bradford Institute for Health Research, which oversees BiB, said: “One of the really interesting findings from BiB over the last decade is how important arts and culture are to our wellbeing and happiness.

“We are so excited to be leading this new programme that will unite the city and inspire a generation. The Leap began from an idea from two of our BiB artists-in-residence, Ian Beesley and Ian McMillan, which captures the energy of our children leaping into the future.”


The Leap is a ten-year project and the funding from Arts Council England will launch the project and fund the first four years. Its core work will focus on some of the most disadvantaged areas of Bradford, where opportunities to engage with arts and culture are few and current levels of participation are low.

The project will begin early next year, starting in the wards of Manningham, Bradford Moor, Tong, City, Keighley West and Keighley Central.

More than 70 bodies and organisations are backing The Leap, from Bradford Council and the Business Improvement Districts in both Bradford and Keighley, to the Bradford Literature Festival, Impressions Gallery and Kala Sangam. High profile national cultural organisations including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Halle Orchestra and the British Film Institute are also partners.

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “Culture enables people to explore skills and talents they never knew they had. It also gives people confidence and shows Bradford district off to our best advantage. The low levels of engagement in arts and culture in some wards highlight the challenges in delivering high quality art that is relevant for a population that is younger and more diverse than any other eligible Creative People and Places areas. Born in Bradford and local arts and community organisations have put huge energy into this bid which will be a game-changer for Bradford and builds on our drive to become the UK’s City of Culture 2025.”

Julia Skelton, Executive Director of Mind the Gap theatre company, which is part of The Leap consortium, said: “Creative People and Places funding is very special in that it engages members of public in shaping their own arts and cultural provision. It’s not about taking art and culture to people, it’s about encouraging and enabling people to celebrate the arts and culture in their communities and giving them amazing opportunities to work with professional artists from Bradford and beyond to make extraordinary things happen.”

People who are interested in volunteering for The Leap programme, or who live, work, or are involved in community activity in the project’s core areas, are asked to get in touch via email at or 01274 364474.