Leeds today: libraries, cuts, green space, Baths, Park, Films, marshals, gallery, street food and Victoriana.

Happy Monday everyone, feelings are on a high this morning; dawn has just broken, there’s the hint of a wispy ice blue sky, we’re into December and the carefully hoarded decorations are out and Christopher Maloney is into the final of X factor (woohoo!) proving that the power of the Merseyside bloc vote really is like unto another country. I am biased…

The BBC reports that due to public spending cuts branch libraries are being taken over by an army of volunteers to ensure they remain open. My events news feed is always full of opportunities to visit your local branch library from a family fun day this Saturday at Moor Allerton to a coffee afternoon in Wetherby’s branch. Our Central library is a wonderful place with any number of workshops and reading groups taking place but for something a bit special try to catch a lunchtime talk on Tolkein about The Hobbit, released in cinemas this month. The basis of the talk is on a letter written by Tolkein held at Leed’s University’s special collections which should ‘give a fascinating insight into the early history of The Hobbit.’

Continuing on from news of public spending cuts, have a read of the Culture Vulture’s post on this subject. As news of Newcastle’s decision to cut arts funding reverberates around the media, CV calls for a modicum of restraint on the arguments against this. Hospitals or artisan icecreams? That sort of thing.

Leeds Citizen’s empty homes week special ended on Friday with a video showing a demolition of 76 terraced houses in Beeston. ‘The Garnets’ were cleared in order to make way for a temporary green space and states the capture of the event as

‘a record of homes being demolished in a city with 24,000 on the council housing waiting list. Demolished at a time when there’s never been such a clamour nationwide and locally for homes in “blighted” areas to be refurbished.’

It’s good news and bad news for community groups, the Bramley baths’ consortium has received a cash injection of £75,000 to ensure the social enterprise will run with support from with support from the new Yorkshire Venture Philanthropy programme. The Royal Park campaigners are stepping forward and taking charge of their area by clearing up the old school yard but unfortunately New Wortley and Fairfield community centres in West Leeds are both faced with closure.

Get ready for film Thursdays courtesy of screenings at Alea Casino’s boutique cinema at Clarence dock. This Thursday sees The Bourne Legacy whilst you can vote for next week’s showing on their facebook page.

Seasonal News! Along with the closure of Call Lane to evening traffic reported in Friday’s BGL, the council have announced further safety measures for ‘merry’ revellers this season. Night-time taxi marshals, to ensure an orderly queue is formed on pavements, will now be located at Leeds Railway Station, at the corner of Call Lane and the Corn Exchange and adjacent to the Oceana nightclub on Woodhouse Lane.  They will be joined by members of the constabulary, PCSOs, afternoon shopping marshalls, the Yorkshire Ambulance service and Street Angels. This is for your own protection people.

But don’t be put off by the potential carnage of desperate shoppers and party goers; there are still lots of brilliant reasons to go into town. The Art Gallery stages ‘Liberty and Anarchy’ by Nike Savvas, a fantastic sounding display of 18 large screens holding hundreds of individually placed, taut plastic, brightly coloured ribbons.  There’s festive story telling at The Howard Assembly rooms and on Wednesday from 11 am-7pm Briggate hosts a street food festival ‘revolution’ of posh fish and chips, baked goods and samples of world cuisine. While you’re there, try to listen out for the Bavarian disco Oompah band belting out classics at the Kirkgate market and railway station as part of the eight ‘Woolly warmer’ mini concert events. We’ve mentioned this before I think it would be worth pulling on your best festive jumper to see local favourites Hope & Social ringing one hundred giant bells at the bus station.

For a gentler experience, Otley’s annual Victorian Fair offers a gift of craft stores, street entertainment, carols and displays attractively packaged in a Dickensian time warp. The fair brought in over sixteen thousand visitors last year and so organisers are promising to ensure even more attractions to top that figure.

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