In a bid to place the Wakefield District at the forefront of regional and national cultural prominence, Wakefield Council has unveiled ambitious plans for “Our Year – Wakefield District 2024.” This exciting year-long programme of cultural events and activities aims to bring the community together, celebrate heritage, stimulate creativity, and boost the local economy. The council is set to seek approval to support this initiative and ensure its success.

Cllr Michelle Collins, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “Our Year will be an inclusive year-long celebration of our district. It will provide a unique opportunity to bring our communities together and connect them to the district’s amazing cultural and creative assets and outdoor spaces, as well as showcasing what makes our communities special.

“It will also boost visitor numbers, which will benefit our local businesses and high streets. And it will support our cultural and creative sector to grow, providing a lasting legacy of quality employment opportunities for local people.

“Most importantly, Our Year’s programme of activity will include something for everyone to get involved in. It will reflect our amazing heritage. At the same time as putting our district firmly on the map as an exciting place to live, work and create.”

Highlighted features of the proposed programme include:

Crossings & Gateways: This initiative will infuse public art into various communities, instilling a unique sense of place and pride in each ward.

Moments of Wonder: The Council’s major events and festivals programme will provide residents with key moments of celebration and inspiration.

Building on Brilliance: Collaborative efforts across the district will manifest in a wide array of events, exhibitions, and activities to celebrate “Our Year.”

Our Stories: A collection of stories from across the district will celebrate its shared heritage, fostering a sense of unity.

The Roving Festival: This novel initiative aims to showcase outdoor spaces, promoting physical activity while connecting cultural and heritage assets.

Creativity around the Corner: Engaging local businesses and public sector bodies through creatives in residence will promote innovation and collaboration.

Culture Grants: This funding scheme will support community groups in running arts and culture projects designed for and with their local communities.

Nurture & Nourish: Aiming to boost community engagement in the district’s food system and cultural participation, this effort will also address food scarcity.

Wakefield Exchange: Set to launch in Spring 2024, this transformation of a disused landmark building in the heart of Wakefield’s city centre into a unique creative hub is sure to leave a lasting impact.

To ensure the successful implementation of “Our Year,” Wakefield Council is actively seeking external investment, with £500,000 already secured from the Council’s Cultural Seed Fund. The recent award of £800,000 from WYCA (West Yorkshire Combined Authority) adds further momentum, while an imminent decision from Arts Council England on additional funding could significantly enhance cultural opportunities for residents throughout 2024.

The Council is also looking to the National Heritage Lottery Fund to maximise the impact and reach of heritage activities as an integral part of “Our Year.”

Moreover, “Our Year” is part of an impressive line-up of cultural celebrations across West Yorkshire, with Leeds 2023, Kirklees Year of Music in 2023, Culturedale in 2024, and Bradford designated as the UK City of Culture in 2025.