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Hyde Park Unity Day – What does culture mean to you?

Over the Summer Leeds hosts more than 60 galas, festivals, horticultural shows and local fetes across its many communities. Throughout the development of the Culture Strategy we have tried to give a voice to as many people from as many different backgrounds as we can find, but not everyone feels comfortable blogging or even just talking about their culture and what life is like for them in Leeds.

We joined the Leeds 2023 Capital of Culture Bid Team and borrowed LS14 Trusts massive deckchair, setting up stall as at the myriad of summer events across communities in Leeds and trading seaside portraits for answers to the questions of what culture means to you, what makes you proud of Leeds and what could we do better.

Hyde Park Unity Day was one of the busiest (and booziest!) events we attended over the summer, with a much younger demographic than a lot of the other events and one of the most eclectic selection of responses. As there were so many people we gave out post it notes and asked people to stick their answers on a board so we had less conversation with people to give context to the answers, as such we’ve chosen to just list them as they were said below.

What does culture mean to you?

  • Great museums – love Kirkstall Abbey, City Museum and Armley Mills
  • Community life
  • An individual’s background or identity
  • In Leeds there are many cultures
  • Shopping, nightlife, events
  • Diversity is part of culture
  • Reading, wearing clothes that no one else wears
  • Photography and cycling
  • Trinity Leeds – food and shopping, just being in the city centre
  • Shopping and food e.g., Victoria Quarter
  • Meeting people – I met my best friend here and had the best time, I love Leeds!
  • Rock and Metal
  • Family and diversity
  • Family – consisting of people from London, Germany. Scotland, Brazil, St Kitts, and Yorkshire
  • Geek culture
  • Parks and open spaces
  • Spirituality and love
  • Trinidadian and Sri Lankan
  • Fancy dress!
  • Irish Yorkshire
  • Born in Brazil, improved in Yorkshire
  • Peace and unity
  • It’s open minded
  • Everything!
  • I can hear 10 different languages just on the bus
  • Diversity and tolerance
  • The integration of ideas
  • Being from the Seychelles, being Black, being Queer.
  • Sri Lanka and English
  • Booze, British, Kebabs.
Hyde Park Unity Day. Image by Paul Jones
Hyde Park Unity Day. Image by Paul Jones

What makes you proud of Leeds?

  • The diversity, the people, the environment and green spaces
  • How many creative and innovative events are happening all the time
  • Youth initiatives like Child Friendly Leeds City Council
  • Very friendly city
  • Not a damn thing!
  • The pubs, the kebab shops, the music scene, the galleries and Royal Armouries
  • Multi-cultural city full of opportunity
  • Very accepting of different cultures
  • Very compact and walkable city centre
  • Our welcome, our people, our events, what we make, our food, our beer
  • Relaxed city, fashion and music scene, not pretentious
  • It’s home
  • The music scene
  • It’s brilliant! I’ll never leave!
  • Great history and heritage
  • Friendly and kind people
  • It’s a safe and diverse city for all cultures
  • There’s something for everyone
  • It’s a happening place
  • Leeds hosted Rugby League World Cup, Rugby Union World Cup, Tour de France, World Triathlon Series and England Test Cricket in the last three years!
  • Leeds has everything – great shops, great people, and lots of love
  • Music and arts scene
  • Veggie runners
  • Vibrant green spaces and a sense of community
  • There are more green spaces than any other city in Europe*
  • Real Junk Food Café
  • We are multi-cultural and should celebrate that!
  • People stop and talk to you, everyone is so friendly
  • It’s got lots of shops and is really tolerant – plus it seems to be getting better at this too!
  • Vibrant culture and nightlife
  • Leeds is welcoming – it’s my home away from home!
  • Leeds is full of creative social justice
  • It never stays the same, it’s always evolving
  • Being welcomed to the city and seeing others have the same experience
  • Arty people and the indie cinema scene
  • The support available for artists across all art forms
  • The medical school at the University of Leeds
  • Leeds is built on many cultures with a proud and radical history of struggle for freedom and justice
  • Opera North, Northern Ballet, West Yorkshire Playhouse
  • Home grown stuff!
  • Leeds Rhinos
  • Its canals, its parks, its music, its art
  • Tolerance and diversity, lovely architecture and industrial heritage, good green spaces, music scene
  • Leeds is a welcoming and safe place to live
  • Ballet for kids at Northern Ballet is brilliant
Hyde Park Unity Day. Image by Paul Jones
Hyde Park Unity Day. Image by Paul Jones

What could we do better?

  • Help reduce the number of people sleeping rough
  • Water fountains in parks
  • We want police everywhere – more bobbies
  • Shout about itself
  • Support the homeless
  • More public toilets would make places more welcoming and accessible
  • More creativity and the funds to enable it, les consumption and consumerism
  • More art and cultural spaces, more public spaces, less shopping
  • Inter-faith should be inclusive of Pagans please – we are not scary
  • Better, more affordable transport links across the city
  • Invest in more bike infrastructure around the city and remove the cars
  • Use more brown filed sites, stop building Lego houses on green belt
  • Have fun things for children
  • Stop ignoring depression as an illness
  • More community events like this
  • There should be a congestion charge and a car free city centre
  • Transport is cheaper in London!
  • More (actually) affordable housing
  • There should be fairness for everybody not just some
  • Bike infrastructure and trams
  • Protect Kirkgate Market
  • Improved cycling lanes on Otley Road (especially nr The Sky Rack)
  • More grassy areas
  • Water fountains to drink
  • Cheaper us fairs for under 18s
  • Legalised under age bars
  • Close the gap between rich and poor
  • Better sports facilities in inner city areas
  • Do more with old buildings – the city is losing it character
  • Listen to Asian performers – stop ignoring them
  • Integrated transport system
  • Bring the Commonwealth Games to Leeds
  • I don’t want to see major changes to Leeds, it’s great as it is
  • Leeds should have a city centre park
  • Less pubs, more parks
  • Not much to do for kids
  • Put the job centre in a better place
  • More charities and third sector support for victims of domestic violence, non-binary/trans people and refugees/immigrants
  • Make parts of the city car free
  • Parliament should be here in Leeds – we would do a better job because we care about people more!
  • Better public transport
  • More rock and metal venues
  • Better cycle paths
  • Help vulnerable people with a more affectionate mental health provision
  • More street art and tagging
  • Leeds United need to win the premiership
  • Help the homeless
  • Better transport
  • Less robberies
  • More eco policies and recycling
  • Don’t build on every bit of green space
  • Make peace not war – Isis aren’t Muslims!
  • More pedestrian zones, proper connectivity and bike lanes
  • Cheaper buses
  • Free shit!
  • Use old buildings don’t destroy them!
  • More community events
  • Showing off its strengths and emphasise sustainability


*We like the boldness of this claim even if we aren’t entirely sure of its accuracy.

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