What is culture?

There are many definitions of culture adopted by cities the world over. Leeds has created its own definition following a year of conversations with people from across the whole city, incorporating a vast range of perspectives.

Our definition of culture is:



“Culture is what we do and who we are, encompassing a broad range of actions and activities which have the capacity to transform, challenge, reassure and inspire, giving a place and its people a unique and distinctive identity."

There are three elements to this definition:

Transform, Challenge & Inspire:

Culture is unique in being able to help us understand and reflect on the world around us, but also to reimagine that world. A small community gathering for sharing food each week has the capacity to transform the lives of the vulnerable and isolated. Equally the bold, ambitious and controversial staging of theatre, performance and dance has the capacity to push our boundaries, or even break them. This is what sets culture apart from other areas of society.



Culture is the way in which we live our lives. It is the communities, places and spaces we create, the people we spend time with and ultimately how we respond to life’s challenges. We use cultural activity to both celebrate and reaffirm who we are. Less positively, culture can also serve to exclude people or groups, marking them out as ‘different’ and serving to divide us.


What we do:

Whilst inclusive of the arts, culture is also about a much broader range of activities that take place to bring people together. In addition to different art forms, culture encompasses parks, woodlands and green spaces, film, television, sport, gastronomy, design, literature, architecture, history, heritage, science, technology, and night life. Cultural activities will continue to grow and adapt as our society changes. This list will never be conclusive or definitive. Leeds will always remain open to new cultures.

Important Information