A range of partners will deliver the new Culture Strategy for Leeds 2017-2030. As a result of 18 months of intensive conversations, a set of six guiding values have been created to ensure that our actions work towards the same principles and to guide future decision making.  


People across the city talked often of ambition, and it features strongly in many visions and strategies. However many people also felt that the city has not always had the confidence and boldness to deliver on its ambitions and see its visions become reality. Bravery combines both the ambition and confidence that could see the city take the risks that will realise its full potential. 


Curiosity is not always accepting the boundaries around us or following well-trodden paths. In discussions Leeds was often considered risk averse and afraid to fail which has hindered our ability to innovate and lead. Curiosity is a willingness to experiment and explore new cultures, new ways of working, and new technologies without the fear of failure. Curiosity is outward facing, interested in others, and discovering and creating the new. Curiosity is as much about how we get there, as it is about where we are going.


The opening of networks, the sharing of spaces, the space created for conversation and the time made for those around us. More than a personal attitude or a monetary transaction, this value must appear in the design of our city, and our urban and rural areas, creating the space for people to breathe, interact and socialise. Generosity is not assuming that we know better than others and empowering those who are disenfranchised, even when we find the outcomes challenging.   


Moving beyond live and let live, respect is about not only accepting and acknowledging difference but actively welcoming and championing it. This value is the result of many conversations about division and difference. It is the value with which to challenge xenophobia, prejudice and exclusion. We must become comfortable with our differences and learn to celebrate them, seeking to unite rather than unify our communities, acknowledging our indigenous ways of life while leaving space for new traditions to influence our culture and create new identities.   


Our culture is created by resourceful and passionate people who make things happen any way they can. Our cultural life has flourished for generations and will withstand austerity, digitisation, globalisation, and shifting demographics. It is nevertheless hugely challenged by these and other competing demands. The city will aid in the development of this resilience; supporting artists in their early development so they can stand alone. In return, the culture sector must do more than make great art, it must be embedded within the city, leading the change from within and finding new models to support its future.    


While we can ask the culture sector and our communities to become more resilient in order for them to do so, we must be honest about the challenges ahead and provide support during transition. We must be able to acknowledge that publicly funded cultural activity has seen its levels of subsidy reduce significantly. Honesty is about having difficult conversations, building trust and integrity. Without honesty and trust, resilience could become a buzzword for cuts as opposed to collectively developing a sustainable future for culture. 

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