Where do we start?
The challenge of creating a Delivery Plan that meets the complex needs outlined in our first post isn’t ours alone, so the solution cannot be created by Leeds City Council on its own. We need to test our thinking, make sure that we’ve got it right, not missed anything, ensure that we create something people will actually use and find helpful. We started with a workshop to test a simple idea:
An online platform where anyone can add a project to a collective Culture Strategy Delivery Plan. This same platform can host updated version of the Culture Strategy, champion our strengths, act as a home for policy, advocacy and research related to culture.
However Leeds already has lots of platforms and websites which can be confusing and difficult to navigate if you’re not familiar with the cultural mechanics of the city. How will this be different? How will it add to rather than duplicate what already exists? There will be a vast range of people who could add to the Delivery Plan some more digitally savvy than others, how will we make it easy? What’s the minimum it needs to do? What would our dream version look like? What problems can it solve?
On the 26th April we started with an open workshop to try to answer some of these questions. The workshop was attended by 38 people, a mix of artists and independent cultural practitioners, established cultural organisations, community representatives and politicians.
We asked the group a series of questions and here’s how they answered.
1. If the city was to create an online platform or website that would enable everyone to contribute to the Culture Strategy, what would that platform/website need to include?
The conversation focused on who the platform would be for with a view that audiences for culture are well served by platforms such as Leeds Inspired, Leeds List or local news websites and publications. An audiences that is not well served is those who are making that product, there was felt to be a lack of profile, connectivity and collaboration across culture makers from the professional sector to community led initiatives. A new service that focuses on culture makers and makes it easier to map where the culture makers are geographically, by cultural interest and art form, share experiences not have to reinvent the wheel, sign post out to others services such as funding and training opportunities would be really useful – “a sort of Rightmove for culture makers!”
Data was felt to also be important in mapping the impact and enable us to tell a stronger story of the value of culture in the city, to be able to evidence where it takes place and in what form. There were also notes of caution – not everywhere in the city has the same level of digital connectivity and literacy. Not everything should be done online, consider how the platform could be a window into what happens in person.
2. As people who are creating culture across a range of communities how would you like to see your project represented in a Culture Strategy Delivery Plan?
In this exercise discussion focused on what tools would be useful to culture makers if they are to be our audience. Collaboration was the most talked about subject in this part of the workshop, people wanting to know who is doing what they are doing, how can they connect with each other, are their opportunities to collaborate or just simply to learn from each other? The group felt that art form wasn’t important here, that if Leeds’ culture was to stand out it’s this collaboration across art form and culture that would be its USP. Again advocacy and evidence featured strongly – if everyone is contributing to this Delivery Plan how can all of that data, knowledge and information be used to make the case for culture, to unlock funding, to demonstrate impact?
3. Lots of platforms for culture already exist in the city, how can we make sure that this platform will be filling a gap and complimenting these services? What will it do? What will it not do?
Throughout the workshop much of the conversation had focused on other platforms, what they do and don’t do and how easy or hard people found them to engage with. Having narrowed the audience down this section focused on what a new platform related to the Culture Strategy delivery Plan should and shouldn’t do, creating a manifesto for cultural development in Leeds.
- Bring elected members into the development and delivery of ideas at a local level from an early stage, providing an opportunity for a more engaging consultation process
- Focus on how we work (our systems and process) not what we produce (our events, festivals and programmes)
- Make culture the “everyday business of the city”
- Facilitate the making of art and culture
- Telling the story of culture in Leeds to advocates e.g., taxi drivers, hoteliers
- Give recognition where we have strengths e.g., lots of national press coverage for culture in Leeds but unless you see it at the time there is a perception that our culture is unknown to the rest of the world
- Advertise events and festivals
- Be a marketing platform for the city
- Become an online only project- remember to engage with people in the real world
4. Help us to prioritise. Of the suggestions made throughout the workshop let us know which ones are most important to you.
At the end of the workshop we asked people to place a sticker against the elements that were most important to them. These elements were the most popular:
- Community building across art form and cultural interest
- Fostering collaboration
- Sharing resources
- Demonstrating geographical spread of culture in the city
- Advocating and evidencing the value of culture in Leeds
While a good mix of people, we recognise that 38 people who happened to be available on a particular date cannot develop all of the answers to the questions we posed. This workshop was a starting point and we will run the workshop again over the next few weeks to gather more views and opinions which will ultimately help us to create a brief for the kind of Delivery Plan we need to create.
Keep checking our events page for updates and events near you.