In early August, Leeds Beckett University announced its plans to build a £75 million arts building to house its Schools of Film, Performing Arts and Music, due to open in 2020. The building will be located close to Leeds Civic Hall, a centre of performance itself, and will act as a foundation planned Leeds Innovation District, a keystone in Leeds’ future economic and cultural development.
Fully equipped with high quality facilities including studios for the practice of performing arts, music, fashion; the dubbing, recording and production of music, including acoustic labs; a theatre; a black-box studio; a TV studio; three large film studios; a green screen studio; a stop motion studio; a Foley studio and a 220 seat Dolby Atmos cinema alongside specialist teaching spaces for the use of students to cultivate creative ideas between varying disciplines, this will also be home to the internationally renowned Northern Film School and the School of Art, Architecture and Design’s fashion department. Although equipped for performance, this is not simply a space of practice and showcase but a hub of ingenuity and originality.
While this development will increase the network of Leeds Beckett buildings across the face of the city, it is also deeply woven into the cultural development and expression of Leeds. This news comes in the wake of February’s announcement that Leeds would be bidding for European Capital of Culture in 2023 and supports Leeds City Council’s condition that the ‘bid must be for the benefit of the whole city, not just the city centre […] ensuring that discussions, events, exhibitions and activities take place in every community, on every estate and throughout every street in Leeds’ per the organisers’ website. Leeds is home to the UK’s fourth largest student population, amounting to almost 65,000 students from the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Trinity University and Leeds Arts University (the city’s four universities) alone and not including students from Leeds College of Music and other further education institutions. Leed’s Beckett’s arts building is designed for one of Leeds’ largest and strongest communities and will prove integral in Leeds’ hopes at winning their bid for European City of Culture.
Culture itself isn’t a physical or stationary thing and this building, described by the university itself as ‘student focussed’, is designed in making the creativities that dwell in students’ minds a reality. The fluid student population of Leeds, a group that regularly travel in and out of the city as they visit home and friends around the country and world, take these thoughts and Leeds’ culture with them, whether it’s back to Hyde Park and Headingly or further afield, through debate, ideas, imagination and love of the city itself. This development is the perfect not only to celebrate Leeds’ existing culture but to encourage its growth for years to come.
(Image courtesy of Hawkins Brown)