Tetley Spring Talks: Culture & Politics

Leeds Salon hosts its first spring talks in partnership with The Tetley art centre, Leeds.

The talks will look at the contemporay issues around use of and politicisation of art and culture - from cultural policy to cultural appropriation.

The talks takes place on the afternoons of Saturday 14th and 28th April 3pm and 4:45pm, on the second floor.

Doors open 2:45pm (for a 3pm start) to 4:45pm. As usual, we'll be retiring to The Tetley bar straight after the 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 contact@leedssalon.org.uk 

Saturday 14 April

Can Culture Save the City?

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? 

Speakers: Pauline Hadaway is undertaking a professional doctorate at the University of Manchester’s Institute of Cultural Practices; Christopher Bailey is Visiting Professor at Yorks St John University Business School; Leanne Buchan, Leeds 2023 Bid Team see biographies; another t.b.c.

Readings:  Leeds 2023 continues as six-year cultural programme announced, Leeds 2023; A New Cultural Strategy for Leeds 2017-2030 Leeds City Council, 17 July 2017; Can culture save cities? Tiffany Jenkins, BBC, 21 October 2014; The Vaue and Values of Culture, Culture Action Europe, 2018.


Saturday 28 April

Can Art Survive the Culture Wars?

How do accusations of cultural appropriation affect the work of artists who draw inspiration from other cultures? Is the female nude still an acceptable subject for art in the #MeToo era? Should gallery curators remove works that reflect outmoded ideas which objectify women? Should plays be avoided if they sexualise young people? Should films be shelved if their directors are found to have behaved badly towards women and others? Are the culture wars threatening the future of the arts?

The arts have historically been preserved spheres of freedom. Organisations such as Index on Censorship campaign for free expression in the arts in the UK and internationally. Artists have historically fought against censorship and many make a point of challenging the boundaries of social propriety and artistic convention. But is it time to re-evaluate the work of artists who appear to objectify women and cultural minorities? Does such work legitimise and perpetuate unacceptable ideas and attitudes? Or should the arts be defended as a sphere of free expression, whatever the consequences? 

Dr Wendy Earle will explore what’s at stake for the arts as they become a battleground for the culture wars. 

Speaker: Wendy Earle writes on the arts and culture for spiked and is convenor of the Academy of Ideas Arts & Society Forum, She works at Birkbeck, University of London, to promote knowledge exchange and public engagement with research in the arts, humanities and social sciences; see more...

Readings: The Painting That Has Reopened Wounds Of American Racism, Edward Helmore, Guardian, 2 April 2017; Who's Guilty When It Comes To Crimes Of Cultural Appropriation?, Lizzy Crocker, Daily Beast, 4 May 2017; In Defense of Cultural Appropriation, Kenan Malik, New York Times, 14 June 2017, Cultural Appropriation Is, In Fact, Indefensible, K. Tempest Bradford, NPR, 28 June 2017, The New Puritans Waging War on Art, Wendy Earle, Spiked, 6 February 2018. 

Event Partners

The Tetley

The Tetley is a centre for contemporary art and learning, located in the former headquarters of the world-famous Tetley Brewery on Hunslet Road. Visit their website at: www.thetetley.org/


Follow Leeds Salon

Leeds Salon on Facebook

Follow theleedssalon on Twitter



Sign up to our mailing list


The Leeds Salon is a judging partner of the sixth form Debating Matters competition

The Tetley and The Leeds Salon are partners in school debate for central and south Leeds

The HFoI and The Leeds Salon are partners in school debate for north Leeds


Leeds Salon is a member of the Amazon Affiliate Programme. When you follow this link, we receive a small percentage of anything you spend in that visit. It costs you no extra but is a big help to us!

Leeds Debate Links

Arts Society Leeds

Café Psychologique

Café Scientifique (Chapel Allerton)

Café Scientifique (Headingley)

FORUM 2000

Headingley Festival of Ideas

Headingley LitFest

Leeds Library Salon

Leeds Phil & Lit Society

Leeds Pint of Science

Taking Soundings

Talking Allowed In Leeds: PiPs

Think Headingley: PiPs


National Debate Links

Salon Aberystwyth

Birmingham Salon

East Midlands Salon

Exeter Salon

Liverpool Salon

London Legal Salon

Manchester Salon

Academy of Ideas

Debating Matters

Manifesto Club


The Great Debate



Global Debate Links

Berlin Salon

Dublin Salon

Zurich Salon


Donations gratefully received