Can Culture Save the City?

The first of two autumn 2018 ‘Tetley Talks’ on the themes of ‘Culture & Politics’

Cultural policy today plays a major part in how cities seek to reinvent and regenerate themselves. The accepted premise is that the creative sector is a key factor for any city keen to redevelop, tackle multiple social and economic problems, and transform its image. Such ideas have resulted in coveted initiatives like European Capital of Culture, and the UK’s City of Culture scheme.

Now, with UK cities disqualified from applying to be ECC, Leeds is one of the cities determined to not let the work behind its 2023 bid go to waste with the announcement of a six-year cultural programme, culminating in a year-long celebration of the city’s culture in 2023. The programme is seen as important for Leeds to deliver its current Cultural Strategy objectives, which include: “growing the economy”, “reducing unemployment”, “increasing health and wellbeing, resolving disconnected between communities and reducing poverty and isolation”.

However, while culture has tremendous social value and power to makes the world a better place, can it really be directed to resolving protracted social and economic problems? And should we ask it to? Or could that be to the detriment of both the quality of culture produced, and better solutions to those problems? 



Saturday 14 April 2018


3pm to 4:45pm




useful reading:

Leeds 2023 continues as six-year cultural programme announced, Leeds 2023

A New Cultural Strategy for Leeds 2017-2030 Leeds City Council, 17 July 2017

Can culture save cities?Tiffany Jenkins, BBC, 21 October 2014

The Vaue and Values of CultureCulture Action Europe, 2018.

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