Leeds today: toys, crafts, advent, mystery, Exposed, hair, St Johns, LIFF and Arts Trail.

Good Morning Leeds, Naziya here and firstly thank you to the visitors of the Meanwood Arts trail for ensuring that the experience of opening our homes, to show off our crafts, was such an uplifting one. The artists were delighted with the response and the footfall which I was told was far better than in recent years.

In wider community news, The Leeds’ Citizen’s panel, the council’s online tool set up to for people to participate in regular surveys about local services and issues has fallen short of its figure of acquiring 6000 residents. Only 3,900 of us (the overwhelming majority being in their 50’s) have thought to sign up so far, leaving the council scratching its heads at our apparent disengagement towards local government. So why not hand control of the panel over to the people?

‘Put together a random dozen people from Leeds (like they do for jury service), lock them in a room and let them get on with it. The council, in the meantime, can get on with whatever tick-box consultation stuff it feels it’s got to do in our name. But a panel/jury of citizens will decide the what and how of the Citizens’ Panel in the future. And if that turns out to be deciding to scrap it, so be it.’

That is an awesome idea and one I’d willingly join.

However on to council success and we find that the recent international film festival (which we made sure you knew about) attracted record breaking audiences. 35,000 people came to see 270 shows over 18 days. Argo with Ben Affleck needed to be shown twice whilst the audience award went to Danish psychological thriller The Hunt. Incidentally, if you missed it, Seven Arts have a screening of My Week With Marilyn tonight whilst tomorrow brings their Black film club. Many of you are looking forward to the film release of The Hobbit so will be pleased to know The Royal Armouries are holding a ‘Swords of Middle Earth’ exhibition featuring four of the swords held by their most famous characters.

The YEP tells us Tropical World is being considered for a £720,000 refurbishment with the revamp to include ‘a new crocodile enclosure, a brand new children’s education zone, an extension to the cafe and a new aquarium.’ I for one hadn’t realised that Tropical World is actually the Arnold and Marjorie Ziff Tropical world in honour of the family’s patronage. Many thanks Mr and Mrs Ziff, it’s a wonderful place which currently has been transformed into a festive wonderland complete with fire breather in the Canal gardens.

No such pecuniary luck for St John’s church in Roundhay which has needed the intervention of the council to prevent it from falling to the ground since being sold for £1 in 2010 to Londoners (Londoners!). As well as a beautiful interior, the church graveyard contains several ancestors of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Ilkey camera club celebrates 60 years of amateur photography by launching ‘Exposed’ – an exhibition at The Manor House Museum, Ilkley from 8th December 2012 to 24th February 2013. The exhibition features a range of prints from throughout its history while club members are holding free workshops on most Saturdays right through until February.

If you’re more likely to be found at the other end of the lens then get thee to the Corn Exchange on Call Lane where every Saturday afternoon until Christmas, Casey Orr will be taking photographs of the beautiful women of Leeds – and their hair styles. Pout your lips, shake your barnet and receive a free portrait in return. Great idea Casey but it’s December…hat hair? Oh well.

Rufus Hound’s One Man, Two Guv’nors comes to the Leeds Grand from Wednesday and if you were thinking of buying a ticket, the CV has a preview of the show.
Now for Seasonal delights! I made mince pies but since you can’t have them here some recommendations instead. Heart in Headingley has Theatre of the Dales to stay on Tuesday 10th December with an intricately plotted piece developed from three Christmas stories,

‘David Robertson has adapted a medieval Wakefield mystery play and woven it into Carlo Menotti’s storyline for the opera Amahl and the Night Visitors to form a companion piece to the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol.’

There’s a matinee and an evening performance so take your pick.

For gift ideas, Leeds Love Affair points you in the direction of The Juju shop, the Corn exchange’s latest craft emporium and don’t forget the annual Lord Mayor’s Carol Concerts this Wednesday for all the family.

Lastly, if all you can do is sit at your desk this week then take a look at Itchy’s interactive advent calendar, which has thus far included the weird Cats hate Christmas gem.

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