In July 2017 Leeds City Council’s Executive Board officially adopted the Leeds Culture Strategy 2017-2030, with the recommendation to continue the co-produced approach to developing the strategy when creating an associated Delivery Plan.
In addition to this the original decision by Executive Board was for an initial three year Delivery Plan but on 23d November 2017 the European Commission retracted the eligibility for a UK city to bid for the title of European Capital of Culture and our plans needed to be rethought.
In February 2018 a report was endorsed by the Culture & Economy Scrutiny Board to extend the timeframe of the first Culture Strategy Delivery Plan to cover the period 2018-2023, allowing for the changes to Leeds 2023 and enabling the Delivery Plan projects to be more ambitious and impactful.
So, here is our challenge.
Leeds Culture Strategy took two years of workshops, conversations, debates and intense discussion to develop. Meanwhile there is already lots of work taking place across the city all adding to the cultural development of Leeds and working towards delivering the aims and objectives of the Culture Strategy, much of which is undocumented or operating below the radar, created by people, just getting on with it. How can we reflect what is already happening, create space for the things that need to happen and keep empowering people to tell their own story of cultural development, owning, sharing and contributing to their own projects with support from the city?
With the development of the Leeds Culture Strategy the framework was set by the need to develop a collective strategy, with the Delivery Plan the needs are more complex. How can we show what’s happening already? How can we use this as a platform to celebrate our strengths? How can we each contribute ideas and projects that are in various stages of development? How can we encourage new ideas that anyone who wants to can contribute towards, ensuring that the Delivery Plan delivers on the ambition for a strategy that has a shared ownership across the city and remains committed to the principles of co-production?
What about all the other things we need to do? The tone of transparency and openness was set by the Culture Strategy. The values of honesty and resilience matched with bravery, curiosity and generosity need to be writ large through everything we do. We need a home for the Culture Strategy which we expect to update and edit each year as things change. We need a space for the conversation to continue. We need a voice to advocate for culture in Leeds, a home for policy and guidance.
Over the next few months we will develop a solution to this challenge.
Together, we will create a brief for the Delivery Plan and a means for how this can be added to and authored by anyone who wants to. We will also shape the city council’s contribution to this plan, work with artists, communities and organisations to develop their own contributions and continue to share progress and create opportunities for collaboration, continuing the co-production of culture in Leeds.