Arts Council England and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority will play crucial roles as funders in Wakefield’s upcoming year of cultural celebrations in 2024.

This announcement was made during a well-attended launch event for ‘Our Year’. Over 300 individuals from various creative sectors gathered at Tileyard North in Wakefield to learn more about the plans.

Speakers, including West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, confirmed financial backing for this year-long celebration. Arts Council England is contributing £500,000, while the West Yorkshire Combined Authority is allocating £800,000.

Cllr Michelle Collins, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, remarked, “The launch event buzzed with energy. The excitement is palpable among all those involved, from our partner organisations to our communities.”

“It was wonderful to see members of our community organisations, alongside our cultural partners and local creatives. The room was filled with enthusiasm about what we can achieve together next year.”

“I extend my gratitude to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Arts Council England for their generous support. Their funding is truly invaluable.”

“This will allow us to offer more people the opportunity to participate and be creative. Additionally, we will be in a position to provide greater support to our creative sector, aiding its growth and putting the district on the cultural map.”

Attendees at Tileyard North included representatives from the community, local creatives, as well as political and cultural leaders from across the region.

Keynote speeches were delivered by Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, and Jane Tarr, Director of Skills and Workforces at Arts Council England, alongside Natalie Adams, Executive Director at Trigger Stuff, and Steven Michael, Chair of Creative Wakefield.

Tracy Brabin said: “I was thrilled to welcome creatives of all backgrounds to the launch of Wakefield 2024, where the energy and enthusiasm for this wonderful district was infectious.

“From Yorkshire Sculpture Park to the world-renowned Production Park; CAPA College and The Hepworth – the district’s rich heritage and creative scene deliver so much for our region and deserve to be celebrated.

“I’m confident that our investment will help us to upskill local talent and unlock economic growth, as we build a stronger, happier West Yorkshire with access to culture for all.”

The £800,000 grant from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority will empower our creative sector to thrive in 2024. This will bolster the partnership with Trigger, facilitating the arrival of The Hatchling in Wakefield in August 2024, and cultivating a dynamic and inventive program of activities for Wakefield Exchange.

The £500,000 funding from Arts Council England will afford our communities the opportunity to conceive and execute cultural activities, and to connect schools with ‘Our Year’ through training and integration into the curriculum.

Jane Tarr, Director of Skills and Workforces at Arts Council England, said: “It was great to see so many people at the launch of Our Year demonstrating just how important arts and culture is to the area and how partnerships have developed.

“Our Let’s Create strategy aims to ensure that the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish, and the Arts Council’s investment through our National Lottery Place Partnership fund will mean that more school children and communities can explore their own creative response to Wakefield’s year of cultural celebrations. Roll on 2024!”

The event also saw the unveiling of the Patchwork Quilt of Culture, sponsored by Tileyard North. This quilt commemorates 366 of the district’s numerous organisations that bring joy and creativity to local communities.