End of Year Round-up 2023!

By December 31, 2023


A collage of images

2023 has been an exciting yet challenging year for the creative sector. Whilst new venues and events have popped up, other parts of the sector have felt the pinch.

A voice for those artists, spaces and thinkers that continue to create in the face of everything happening with the economy is more vital than ever. The State of the Arts is proud to have remained at the heart of the culture we care deeply about in 2023, keeping our audiences informed and inspired by what’s going on in museums, in music venues, on stage, everywhere.

Our contributors have been as imaginative and bold as ever this year. They’ve kept their ears to the ground and captured moments that make our content original and insightful.

Meanwhile, our editorial team has continued to try new things, cover more events, form stronger partnerships and further our vision for The State of the Arts. Our part-time team of freelance editors will keep evolving TSOTA and have mapped out our next milestones for the project, promising big progress in 2024 to serve the creative sector and our followers.

More on that soon… For now, we want to highlight the year we’ve just had, picking out key moments that we’ve loved and that show TSOTA at its very best. Enjoy – and keep an eye out for more from the team when we return in the new year!

L-R: Mike Shaft, Colin Curtis, Greg Wilson. Source: Greg Wilson

The Story of Jazz-Funk

It’s not every day that we get to speak at length with a musical legend… let alone three at once!

Early in 2023 we published ‘The Story of Jazz-Funk’, a documentative piece looking at one of the most influential – yet overlooked – moments in Manchester’s musical history, featuring the perspective of three DJs integral to this scene: Colin Curtis, Greg Wilson and Mike Shaft.

One of our most popular bits of content from 2023, the group interview became a podcast episode, informed some longform editorial, and was broadcast on Manchester’s Reform Radio. Not only were we delighted with the response to the piece, but the joy it brought these DJs to be united in a studio, reliving an essential part of our nation’s musical heritage, reminded us how vital our journalism can be.

Read and listen to the Story of Jazz-Funk here, or check out the episode on Reform featuring key songs from the era.

Illustration of Tetley and Sheaf St buildings with construction tape

Credit: Rebecca Horswill

Tetley and Sheaf St closures grip the South Bank of Leeds

When two of Leeds’ most beloved cultural venues – the Sheaf St music venue and the Tetley art gallery – announced closures in quick succession, the city was shocked, upset… and also confused. As cultural journalists, we felt compelled to paint a picture of what happened to Sheaf St and the Tetley, and so investigated the situation around these venues and the Aire Park development.

The story of the South Bank will progress well into 2024, with more news expected about the future of the venues and Leeds City Council’s plans for the area. The conversation will continue, but TSOTA were proud to bring it to the fore in November – in 2024, we will be across even more of the big changes affecting culture in your city.

Read our coverage of the Sheaf St and Tetley closures here.

Credit: Louise Fischer

Following the Footsteps of the Arctic Monkeys

Almost 20 years on from their formation, the Arctic Monkeys still hold a special place in many hearts, including that of TSOTA writer Louise Fischer.

Early in 2023, Louise literally walked us through the early career of the Sheffield band, by visiting various key locations in their hometown and documenting the role they played in the band’s rise. But not only did Louise write up a digestible history of the Arctics, she provided her own illustrations of the locations visited and an accompanying list of songs that reference them, making for a unique piece of storytelling that demonstrates the diverse talent we have in the TSOTA team.

Read Louise’s article here.

Credit: Millie Bentley

LRFS 2023

Leeds RAG Fashion Show returned in 2023, raising £20k for charity and showcasing the best of Leeds University’s fashion student community.

The show this year was themed around mental health and was split into five scenes for each sub-theme: Sadness, Lost, Anger, Found and Hope. Our review looked at how the performances and outfits communicated the show’s messages, enhanced by a great set of photos from Millie Bentley. LRFS once again showed how fashion can be a powerful intersection of theatre and social consciousness, and why the 2024 event (with the theme of ‘Eclipse’) will be a must-see!

Read our review of LRFS here.

Image Credit: Gareth Jones

Tate Liverpool presents a Portrait of NHS Workers

The NHS celebrated its 75th birthday in July, and to celebrate it, Tate Liverpool presented a special painting to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital depicting a group of key workers in the pandemic.

Contributor Lorraine Bacchus visited the hospital to see this stunning work and retell the moving story behind it, explaining how artist Aliza Nisenbaum created it remotely and the experience of the staff that inspired it. Lorraine’s article reminded us not only of the brave work of NHS workers during the pandemic, but the way art can capture and celebrate this in the most fitting way possible.

Read Lorraine’s piece here.

Image credit: Court Spencer

Snooping Through Studios: Danny Larsen 

The art scene in Yorkshire is as strong as ever. Dedicated artist/curator Court Spencer continued her monthly column ‘Snooping Through Studios’ this year, showing off the variety of work in Leeds and beyond through studio visits and interviews with some of her favourite current artists.

Talented sculptors, painters, digital designers and more featured on our site as part of the column, which you can read here. One of our most popular interviews was with Danny Larsen, a Norwegian artist who exhibited his landscape works at Redhouse Originals in Harrogate in January. You can read it here.


And that’s it for 2023! To wrap up this article and round off the year, here is a quick message from Will, our Lead Editor:

“Looking back at our highlights, I’m delighted with how much we’ve managed to do this year – so many new approaches to storytelling and so many vital, original ideas and topics covered by our small but ambitious media company.

“Our editors and contributors have been great in 2023, as always. But we’ve been especially happy to see so many friends and partners in the sector, from venue directors to world famous DJs, innovative local artists and festival founders, generously giving us their time so we can make the best quality journalism we can. It’s been a turbulent year for many of them, but our collaborations have helped us share more stories about their work and build bigger audiences for all of us.

“A massive thanks to everyone that’s worked with us this year and engaged with our content! Keep an eye out in 2024 for more stories, more ideas and more culture from The State of the Arts.”