What’s happening in Bradford: ‘The Leap’ – what is it and why is it so important?

By September 5, 2019

Community. Bradford.

Copyright Ian Beesley, ‘The Leap’

Hot on the heels of the City of Culture 2025 bid announcement was yet more exciting news for Bradford’s creative scene.

As part of the national scheme Creative People and Places, the district has been awarded £2m by Arts Council England for a programme of cultural activity the Bradford bidders called ‘The Leap’.

The Leap will create new art projects for and with some of the communities around the district who currently have a low level of engagement with the arts. It will make new work, hold new events, and light up places not normally touched by much in the way of collaborative artistic happenings.

One of the unusual and pretty important things to note about Bradford’s bid for CPP funding is that it was put together by an NHS team – the formidable and long-running Born in Bradford project.

Born in Bradford is a scientific and community study tracking the health and wellbeing of children born in Bradford, to improve their lives.

By having an organisation like Born in Bradford leading on a programme like this, the message is loud and clear: arts and culture are completely linked with health and wellbeing, they’re not just an afterthought or a ‘nice to have’.

The Leap itself was named after a poem by Ian McMillan and a series of photos by Ian Beesley (both BiB resident artists), both portraying the energy and enthusiasm of Bradford children leaping into the air.

As for the actual programme of events – that’s still to be shaped. It’s a 10-year plan, which is now funded for the first four years thanks to the Arts Council’s decision. It’ll start in 2020, first with the areas of Manningham, Bradford Moor, Tong, City, Keighley West and Keighley Central.

By enlisting the creativity of lots of local people, it will aim to make up to 100,000 new audience members for all the new arts and cultural events it encompasses. That’s a potential 100,000 people who might not have access to the arts right now, might not feel welcome or able to engage, and may – as a result of The Leap – go on to become artists themselves.

If you want to get involved, there’s a way to register your interest right now on the website at