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A Little Inspiration

“Good problem solvers are pragmatists; they all steal the best answers from wherever they find them”

Jonathan Tepperman, author of The Fix: How Nations Survive and thrive in a world in decline.


Leeds is distinctive as a city, but not unique in its challenges.

Global cities all struggle with the same challenges of demographic change, migration and integration of culture, climate change, the demands of digitisation and the balance of creating beautiful places and spaces, matched with the demand for more housing, schools, hospitals and facilities. In a way it’s comforting to know that we aren’t on our own in this journey and that others are also working to figure this stuff out.

There is no sense in reinventing the wheel so there is a lot of reading involved in creating a Culture Strategy, to check if someone has already found the answer, and make sure that, although we’re finding our own path, we are also not missing some big clues along the way.

It isn’t all big, hefty documents though. Sometimes the best inspiration has come from TED Talks or quotes and ideas shared by artists, writers and poets. Here is a bibliography of sorts that might help us on our quest towards a co-produced Culture Strategy for Leeds, we’ll keep adding to this as we go.


People, Artists, Writers, Creators & Makers

  • Brian Eno’s John Peel Lecture with Mark Radcliffe in 2015

  • David Bowie on the difference between arts and culture

“The most interesting thing for an artist is to pick through the debris of a culture, to look at what’s been forgotten or not really taken seriously. Once something is categorized and accepted, it becomes part of the tyranny of the mainstream, and it loses its potency.”

  • Roald Dahl, writing in The BFG on who gets to create our world

“Those buildings. These lights. This whole city. Somebody had to dream about it first“


Buildings, Places & Spaces

  • Amanda Burden’s TED Talk on How Public Spaces Make Cities Work


Environment & Sustainability

Building on the work of Agenda 21, a UCLG (United Cities and Local Government) initiative, this report provides a toolkit for cities who are considering new cultural policies and how to integrate sustainable practices into those policies.

Bringing together artists, scientists and academics, IETM in collaboration with COAL (French organisation Coalition for Art and Sustainable Development), focus on how the arts can push us all to act in reinventing our world and considering the environmental impacts of our way of life. The report features case studies from projects Turkey and Kosovo to Norway, Indonesia, Italy, Finland and the UK.

As part of its year as European Capital of Culture in 2017, Aarhus has created a model for sustainable development in the arts and culture sector. The model takes the ‘Rethink’ theme of the Capital of Culture bid and applies it to how we deliver arts and culture events, building design, the sharing of ideas and gastronomy, to ensure a more sustainable approach to delivering the city’s cultural offer.


Learning, Education & Skills

  • Sir Ken Robinson’s RSA Talk on Changing Education Paradigms

  • Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk Bring on the Learning Revolution


The Digital Environment

Commissioned by the British Council this report acts as n introductory guide to using technology and open data practices in the arts as a means of engaging wider communities, finding new business models and creating new services for audiences.

Commissioned by NESTA this research aims to find more constructive uses for the vast amount of data collection and reporting that already takes place within arts organisations, local authorities and NGOs.


Inspiring Good Values

“Maybe we should all have a healthy disrespect for the rules and just get on with it” – a comment from a research study in which 64 Million Artists met with 300 professional and everyday artists, cultural organisations, community groups, local authorities, academics and others to look at the role of everyday creativity in the cultural landscape and question who actually creates our cultures.


Although a national Think Tank this work was led by Leeds City Council and sought to acknowledge the changing economic, political and social environment in which public sector services are delivered. The report calls for a more enabling relationship between local authorities and the communities which they serve, and a more enterprising approach to delivering public services.


Cultural Policy

A pre-cursor to the forthcoming Government White Paper on Culture, this report outlines suggested policies and areas of focus in cultural policy.

A report taking a snapshot of UK core Cities (Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield) and their response to current economic and political conditions.

Commissioned by Arts Council England, The Arts Council of Ireland, Creative England, ECCE (European Centre for Creative Economy), ECF (European Cultural Foundation) and the ECBN (European Creative Business Network), this report gathers evidence across a range of cultural activities to chart where cultural activity has an impact of other policy areas such as health and well-being, economic development and social cohesion.