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A New Definition of Culture

At each meeting, group, presentation and discussion we always ask the group to indulge us in a straw poll of ‘culture’ – we ask who has been to the theatre in the last seven days, and who has been to an art gallery in the last seven days.

It’s gratifying to those who work in the arts that we are yet to speak to an audience where no one puts their hand up. The art gallery they have been to might have been connected to a cafe rather than one of larger, more established art galleries. The theatre production might have been in a community centre or a school rather than watching the greatest actors of our time tread the boards in our purpose built venues, but nevertheless, not only have they been and seen, but crucially someone in every group we speak to has enjoyed the arts at some point in the last week.

We then ask who has listened to music? who is reading a book? who shared food with friends or family? who got dressed and thought about what they wore? Many more hands are raised and people start to nod as they see what happens when the definition relates to the broadest spectrum of culture.

It’s a simple but powerful, visual demonstration of why we need a broader definition of culture. A definition that has meaning to us all and one in which we can see our own cultures reflected back at us, whatever form they may take.

We haven’t found a definitive definition yet, or even a long list as those conversations are still happening in and around the city. You can follow the conversations here and add your own perspectives in the comments space at the bottom of each post. Or, you Contact Us with your own take on what culture means to you and we’ll publish it here too.

We will update this page when, collectively, we find a definition of culture that works for Leeds.