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ECG Collaborative Project: Leeds Research Trip

Stemming from an ECG workshop which took place at the Leeds Art Gallery in April 2023, four members of the 2023 Emerging Curators Group embarked on a collaborative research trip to better understand the ground-up cultural ecology of the city of Leeds. In early November of 2023 Surya Bowyer, Jess Baxter, Rhona Sword and Elinor Hayes visited Leeds to visit creative art spaces within the city. This visual essay focuses largely on their visit to East Street Arts.

East Street Arts started in 1993 with two artists who couldn’t find the support and infrastructure they needed to develop their art practice. 

East Street Arts work within a broad definition of visual arts that includes traditional disciplines of painting and sculpture, and more specifically public art, socially-engaged practice, crafts and digital (including film, sound and radio). 

East Street Arts has a focus in Leeds, because of their knowledge of the surrounding area, but their reach is not limited and extends beyond to the rest of the country. They directly support organisations and artists around the north of England and have become a reference point for this part of the country, having built a reputation through their work over the years.  

The organisation is recognised as a key leader in the arts sector, acknowledgement of which is evidenced in their continuously awarded Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status. Alongside other NPOs, there is a collective responsibility to protect and develop the national arts and cultural ecology.   

The organisation has built ties around the UK and internationally, connecting with artists and organisations, observing different strategic models, ways of learning and connecting.