The Tetley

Leeds Salon: Can Culture Save the City?

Saturday 14 April, 3pm

The first of two spring talks Leeds Salon is hosting in partnership with The Tetley on the theme of culture and politics.

Cultural policy today plays a major part in how cities seek to reinvent and regenerate themselves. The accepted premise is that the creative sector is a key factor for any city keen to redevelop, tackle multiple social and economic problems, and transform its image. Such ideas have resulted in coveted initiatives like European Capital of Culture, and the UK’s City of Culture scheme.

Now, with UK cities disqualified from applying to be ECC, Leeds is one of the cities determined to not let the work behind its 2023 bid go to waste with the announcement of a six-year cultural programme, culminating in a year-long celebration of the city’s culture in 2023. The programme is seen as important for Leeds to deliver its current Cultural Strategy objectives, which include:  “growing the economy”, “reducing unemployment”, “increasing health and wellbeing, resolving disconnected between communities and reducing poverty and isolation”.

However, while culture has tremendous social value and power to makes the world a better place, can it really be directed to resolving protracted social and economic problems? And should we ask it to? Or could that be to the detriment of both the quality of culture produced, and better solutions to those problems?


Pauline Hadaway is undertaking a professional doctorate at the University of Manchester’s Institute of Cultural Practices.

David Hesmondhalgh is Professor of Media, Music & Culture in the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds.

Christopher Bailey is a Visiting Professor at York St John University and Professor Emeritus in Cultural History at Leeds Beckett University.

Doors open 2:45pm (for a 3pm start) to 4:45pm. As usual, we’ll be retiring to The Tetley bar straight after each talk to drink and chat more informally.

Admission: £5 waged/£4 unwaged (cash only) to pay on the day, but please reserve your place by e-mailing us at