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A Co-Produced Strategy

What if we build a new kind of Culture Strategy, together?

It’s a simple starting point. One that recognises us all as equals regardless of age, gender, race, income, artistic preferences, geography, organisation. It’s sometimes called ‘open-sourcing’ encouraging people to pool their ideas and share them openly, watching something take shape and grow as the conversations unfold. It’s also sometimes called co-production, which suggests collaborating with others to produce something.

The word collaboration is crucially different to consultation. Consultation is defined as: “The process by which the public’s opinions are sought on matters affecting them.”

This isn’t about “the public” and it isn’t only about matters that are deemed to affect them.

Culture has many facets of which no one person or organisation can be a single authority. The creation of culture, be that in the arts or our broader identity as a city, is not the domain of any one person or organisation. Therefore the Culture Strategy for Leeds cannot be developed and agreed by any one person or organisation.

By co-producing a new Culture Strategy for the city we will all play an active role in its development. A role that puts us all in the driving seat, invites everyone to share their views, debate the future role of the culture we create and determine how best to support this, collectively. This is the principle at the heart of this strategy.

Leeds City Council will host the strategy but it will be created with the leadership of thousands of people across the city. Through a series of conversations, events, media discussions, meetings and debates all documented on this website, collectively we will consider what kind of Culture Strategy Leeds needs now to take us to 2030. What does the city need and want to achieve? What are its challenges? Where are its biggest opportunities? What role will culture play in the future development of the city?

When a consensus is reached it will be added to this section of the website. Recently we were asked, “What happens if we can’t agree on what’s important?” If that happens we will take the debate to the city council’s democratically elected Executive Board, present the views from all perspectives and ask them to agree the outcome of that phase.

In this section we will be able to see the strategy build as values, themes and milestones are agreed. We might create new headings that you would expect to find in a traditional strategy such as values, aims and objectives or themes. Alternatively we might choose different headings for our strategy focusing on what culture means to us and where it adds most value from health, diversity and education to planning, transport and housing.

The blogs on this site will document the co-production process so that we can understand why we collectively made that decision, or where that idea came from, or why that particular element of the strategy is so important to Leeds. Only when things are agreed do they appear in this area of the site, forming the city’s first co-produced Culture Strategy.