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Leeds Dortmund 50 writing project

This year we’re celebrating 50 years of twinning with our German partner city of Dortmund. There are lots of exciting activities planned for October 2019 (more information to come soon) when we’ll be officially celebrating our golden anniversary. But one activity that’s already underway is a writing and arts project led by Leeds based writer, Peter Spafford. In today’s post Peter outlines his plans for the LD50 project.

Leeds/Dortmund 50, or LD50, is a project that celebrates our twinning partnership through the arts, particularly writing.

So what’s happening? The support of Leeds 2023 has enabled the creation of a number of dialogues between individuals and groups in our two cities: established writers, school children, creative writing students, young people’s writing groups, and members of the thriving language/cultural clubs.

These writing exchanges will culminate in a festival at Chapel FM Arts Centre on the 1st-5th October 2019. All the readings, performances, and discussions will be broadcast from Chapel FM, thus enabling participants in Germany to be part of the event even if they cannot physically attend. The festival will also feature people from choirs, language societies, schools and church groups who have memories of Leeds/Dortmund exchange projects over the last fifty years.

As the coordinator of LD50, I’m having a fascinating time. In March I visited Dortmund again, meeting with a variety of people, and a few weeks later the poet Ralf Thenior, my original contact in Dortmund, came over to Leeds where we launched our jointly-written book, Reise-Gedanken.

More recently, I’ve set up seven pairings of Leeds/Dortmund writers who will be translating each other’s work with the support of nine volunteer translators from the University of Leeds.

This week at Chapel FM we’re recording a radio drama written by children at Beechwood Primary School, Seacroft, with storyteller Matthew Bellwood, about what The Barrel Man gets up to in Leeds at night. And I’ve been talking to the director of the young people’s company at Theater Dortmund about the possibility of them performing in Leeds.

If you want to know more about LD50, we now have a website – – where we’ll publish all the writing and provide up-to-date news on what’s happening. And if you want to get involved, either as a volunteer host for visiting Dortmunders, someone with memories of Leeds/Dortmund exchanges, or as a writer/artist who wishes to contribute to the festival, please email Peter Spafford,


Keep an eye out for more updates on the International Relations blog where we’ll be sharing more information on our anniversary plans!

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