Kirklees Year of Music generates over 100 new projects and promotes over 1000 events and activities from the Kirklees community as it celebrates its Year of Music in 2023

After twelve months of inspiring events, learning opportunities, workshops and performances, Kirklees Year of Music 2023 (KYOM23) comes to a close, having reached many thousands of residents and visitors from across the district and beyond at live events. Throughout 2023, KYOM commissioned and funded 136 new projects and activities, created and safeguarded dozens of local jobs and saw over 22,000 active participants, including over 10,000 young people, take part in its programmes. 

KYOM23, led by Kirklees Council, showcased Kirklees as a place where anyone can experience world-class music and celebrated the region’s rich musical heritage while promoting the growth of new music across the district. Audiences were delighted by a BBC Prom, some award-winning, larger-than-life sheep, Viking musicians taking to the streets of Huddersfield and a unique collaboration between doom metal and pipe organ. Local musicians shared their talents in an international showcase, children created a Song for Kirklees and young people developed the Music of Tomorrow. 1000 children sang an Opera with singers from the Royal Opera House on the stage of Huddersfield Town Hall and many more took part in workshops or attended live music events. Kirklees Year of Music brought all genres of music to thousands across the region. 

Kirklees Year of Music received support and funding from a number of external sources including West Yorkshire Combined Authority, and Arts Council England - enabling a year of culture delivered in partnership with organisations and individuals across the district.

The KYOM23 programme encompassed headline events; support to expand the Kirklees culture and music scene; career development, and support for the local music industry sector; a learning programme aimed at young people, their teachers and parents; plus activities to support health and wellbeing. All combining and amalgamating to create a celebration of music and the Kirklees community. 

KYOM commissioned, supported and presented over 250 events in 2023, initiating many new projects. These included Organic Doom – a unique marriage of doom metal by bands Arð and Pantheist with organist David Pipe accompanying on the magnificent Father Willis organ at Huddersfield Town Hall.  The performance attracted audiences from across the UK and internationally. Songs for the Season was a competition to find new winter songs for Kirklees. Whilst Prince Reimagined, created by Hardeep Sahota presented an incredible event at Lawrence Batley Theatre for one special evening, with the iconic artist’s music performed in new compositions and styles. KYOM23 partnered with WOVEN in Kirklees to create STRUT, a community catwalk and event that took over Dewsbury town centre for a day in June. Whilst the spectacular, sell-out new Yorkshire adaptation of Beowulfdevised by Proper Job Theatre, saw an incredible Viking procession take place through the streets of Huddersfield. 

A highlight of the summer was the flagship event HERD, devised and directed by Orlando Gough and produced by Artichoke. HERD won ‘Event of the Year’ in the Yorkshire Post Tourism Awards 2023 after 35,000 people came to see the 23 vibrant sheep sculptures. The sculptures housed music and soundscapes created in collaboration with over 350 local musicians, sound artists, choirs, schools and community groups from across Kirklees. They travelled across the district to a final live performance in a packed St Georges Square, Huddersfield.  One-in-five audience members came from outside Kirklees, with many visiting the district for the very first time. The event – and others like it – brought an economic boost to the region, with audiences spending more than £30 per person on food & drink, merchandise, travel and other local attractions. Visitors were excited by the spectacle - over 80% of HERD attendees stated that the project had inspired their imagination and increased their pride in the area. 

As well as hosting new events, KYOM23 also supported long-standing projects including, Sangam Mela and Festival, Huddersfield Literature Festival; Deighton and Huddersfield Carnivals amongst others – to expand and grow their offer. The programme was open to any local venues, organisations or musicians to use the KYOM23 website as a platform to showcase events, with dedicated social channels promoting events taking place all across the district with social reach into the millions. The website and social media channels will stay active and managed beyond 2023, and the local music industry are encouraged to continue submitting their events on

The history of music in Kirklees played a key role in the programme. The TOWNSOUNDS oral history podcast, created by Let’s Go Yorkshire and hosted by community songwriter and music historian Sam Hodgson, presented a series of 12 episodes created especially for KYOM23. The podcasts explored the musical heritage of Kirklees – from Brass and Steel to Sound systems and South Asian Music, Rock and Roll to Folk, each episode explored the untold stories of local people within that scene. Due to popularity and interest, the podcast is releasing three additional episodes in 2024. Furthermore, learning resources based on the podcast are being developed by KYOM23 learning lead, Shape North. The resources will be distributed to schools across Kirklees, ensuring the next generation of music makers and appreciators understand the rich diversity and exceptional musical heritage of the region. 

Over 10,000 pupils aged 4 – 18 engaged with the learning strand of KYOM23, delivered in partnership with Shape North. The programme aimed to create opportunities for music to be part of every child’s life. Children were able to experience music through live performance, both by bringing music into schools and, allowing them to visit venues in the district. Children explored how music can support other skills and the programme offered continuous professional development and learning for teachers and educators. A bank of Kirklees-specific learning resources now exist that will extend music learning and development well beyond the end of KYOM23. Highlights of the learning programme included 1000 children taking part in a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at Huddersfield Town Hall, in partnership with Royal Opera House as part of their Create and Sing programme. As well as an entire month of music making and performances of all different genres, inspired by Make Music Day - the world’s largest DIY festival of music which was enjoyed by 3000 schoolchildren. There was also an innovative project that saw children learning CPR in time with musical beats delivered with Yorkshire Ambulance Service. A Pocketful of Rhymes is a new suite of films and resources devised for early years development to build learning and linguistic skills through musicality. Available online via the Music in Kirklees and Kirklees Libraries websites, the new films created with Kirklees performers have been viewed over 72,000 times. 

Meanwhile, the Music Industry strand of KYOM23 focused on supporting the development of the region’s music industry, particularly following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the live music scene. This was achieved through a series of events, webinars, showcases, mentoring and networking opportunities - including the successful music exchange and showcase event Platform, that brought Kirklees artists to a world stage, delivered in partnership with Music Cities Events. The programme delivered 15 live events and seminars, including support for Onwards Festival and Independent Venues Week. The music industry programme safeguarded 32 jobs, created 17 new ones and supported the inception of a new business. The programme will continue in 2024, with plans for a second edition of Platform; the continuation of Volume Up supporting young people’s music career development and a new programme: Getting Export Ready aimed at readying artists to work internationally. 

KYOM23 supported career development through projects including Music of Tomorrow, delivered by Yorkshire Youth & Music and a series of micro-commissions, created in partnership with Unlimited.  Music of Tomorrow saw over 50 attendees across four courses, all aimed at developing young people’s skills and understanding of a career in the music industry, with a particular focus on those not in education, employment or training (NEET).. The programme continues through to end March 2024, with 3 sessions per week running in locations across Kirklees. KYOM23 and Unlimited awarded six disabled artists living or working in Kirklees micro-commissions to explore, experiment and develop their music-led practice. 

The Kirklees Music Ecosystem Network in partnership with Music Cities Events supported artists in the district through the establishment of a new online community for people from all professions and sectors to learn more about how music can create value in towns and cities all over the world, through free workshops and resources. Throughout 2023, the Ecosystem ran 10 online events, covering topics from NFTs to marketing, wellbeing to policy making and more. The ecosystem platform will remain in place until at least May 2024 as a legacy programme for all members – new and existing - to access. 

Supporting Health and Wellbeing through music was a key aspect of KYOM23, working with two partner organisations, Creative Minds and HOOT Creative Arts to deliver a series of activities and projects that celebrate the transformative power that music can have on mental and physical health and wellness. 

Creative Minds, a local award-winning NHS charity hosted by South West Yorkshire NHS Partnership Trust and Locala Health and Wellbeing, commissioned 16 projects with KYOM23 that directly impacted over 2000 people. The projects included the expanding the South Asian Women’s choir Song Geet in partnership with Lawrence Batley Theatre – Song Geet performed at King Charles III’s coronation concert.  They also supported workshops and performances from World Music group Murkika, as well as Support 2 Recovery’s Good Mornin’ Blues sessions which continue to bring people together to learn about and express themselves through Blues music.  Aspire Voices was a project aimed at those suffering from loneliness and social exclusion, explored singing for health, wellbeing, and fun; and Chol Theatre’s intergenerational project featuring Bolly-Hudd workshops culminated in the performance Daytimers that was inspired by the stories of young people who would attend secret afternoon Bhangra music raves in the 80s and 90s.  

Arts and mental health charity, HOOT Creative Arts focused on music as a creative art and therapeutic activity for all, including monthly Speak Our Music events, providing support for musicians by musicians from various genres of music. Sessions included activities such as a sound bath, discussions, creative writing sessions and talks. In addition, HOOT hosted a series of AfterParty workshops which focused on helping those with learning difficulties to develop skills in DJing and hosting parties, plus Library of Sounds, a programme focused around wellbeing and drumming workshops in Kirklees Libraries. Across the year, HOOT worked with 186 participants and sessions will continue into 2024. 

The KYOM23 Health and Wellbeing programme will be showcased at The Rhythm of Life – a Creative Summit on 9 February 2024 at Dewsbury Town Hall.

Further development opportunities for young people building experience in the cultural sector included the volunteer programme, managed by Future Creative, in partnership with Lawrence Batley Theatre and TSL Kirklees that saw 75 young people aged 16 – 24 volunteer across 85 events in Kirklees, and engage with 38 creative partner organisations. 

KYOM23 provided a number of exciting opportunities for artists, schools and the local community to get involved with including Sound Identities – where seven artists were commissioned to create original music, across seven different genres, to represent what Kirklees means to them and Dewsbury Sound Commission, in partnership with Dewsbury Taking the Lead, which saw the search for an artist or composer to develop a piece of music or soundscape celebrating Dewsbury and its surrounding villages.

Kirklees Year of Music 2023 also contributed to activity in Dewsbury through Taking the Lead, an initiative from Kirklees Council through Dewsbury’s Towns Fund programme, which resulted in over 200 days of paid work for artists and creative businesses in Dewsbury, spanning 127 workshops, 13 talks, 37 performances, and an exhibition, reaching over 8000 beneficiaries aged 2 - 92.

The legacy of KYOM23 is currently being explored to establish what can be continued and developed from what has been learnt in 2023. The Music in Kirklees website showcasing music events, activities and opportunities in the district will remain active, including hosting valuable resources created during KYOM23 to support schools, educators and the music industry. 


Kirklees Year of Music was part of a series of year-long, cultural offers in the district of West Yorkshire from 2023 to 2025. LEEDS23 also took place in 2023, in 2024 Calderdale and Wakefield present CultureDale and Our Year Wakefield respectively, before Bradford’s year as the UK City of Culture in 2025. 

KYOM23 will pass the baton to Our Year Wakefield on 27 January at an event at the National Coal Mining Museum, close to the border of Kirklees and Wakefield. Everyone is invited to join the celebration from 11.30am to enjoy craft activities and listen to music from the Hade Edge Band and Wakefield Orchestral Wind. 

Leader of the Council, Cllr Cathy Scott Said:

“We’re so proud of what the Year of Music has achieved across Kirklees in 2023. The programme has succeeded in reaching hundreds of thousands of people, attracted visitors to the area; developed new jobs and provided opportunities for local people to get involved with music on different levels. Music is woven into the history of Kirklees and this year has truly celebrated how every genre has played its part in making our communities what they are.  The experiences that have been created for young people and local musicians will help carry the legacy into the future, making sure music continues to be part of the Kirklees story for years to come.” 

Cllr Aafaq Butt, Cabinet Member for Culture said: 

“I have enjoyed seeing all the fantastic musical moments created for Kirklees Year of Music. It has really put our area on the map as a great place to visit and live.  That’s something that will be built upon with the other West Yorkshire cultural celebrations coming up in the next few years, including those in our neighbouring local areas of Wakefield and Calderdale in 2024.” 

A final impact report further showcasing Kirklees Year of Music will be released in March 2024 and a full evaluation will be released in the summer of 2024. 


Notes to editors 

About Kirklees Year of Music 2023 (KYOMO23)

Kirklees Year of Music in 2023 was a unique, place-based, cultural change programme initiated and led by Kirklees Council, part of the wider cultural offer in the district of West Yorkshire from 2023 to 2025. This year is designated as a Year of Music for the district and, through investment in the district’s diverse music talent, communities and businesses, the year-long programme of events and projects, will strengthen the music ecology of Kirklees from its roots.  

KYOM23 is celebrating the richness and diversity of Kirklees music heritage, the music created and performed today, and the ambition for the future, inclusive of all music genres, all communities and in all forms. 

Kirklees is a place where everyone can hear world class music through festivals and programming; where children and young people have access to high quality musical experiences and education; and where the next generation of musicians and music professionals can build and sustain a high-quality career, with access to the very best industry advice, career opportunities and performance routes.

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