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, in the second floor City Workshop.

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 see biographies; more 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?

What are charges of cultural appropriation doing to the arts? Artists, who may have thought they were showing their commitment to diversity, have been charged with exploiting the cultures of ethnic minorities. Since charges of cultural appropriation have increased in volubility, some artists and writers find their creative impulses curtailed by fears that they will be offending one minority group or another by ‘stealing’ their culture.  Attacks on cultural appropriation seem to threaten the very roots of cultural openness, exchange, fluidity and creativity – the imaginative possibilities of entering and engaging with other cultures.

But do the public need to be made aware of cultural theft perpetrated against minority cultures?  Should artists and writers be challenged on the way they use sources outside their own culture to inspire and create their own work? Are they profiteering from cultures that don’t have access to resources for their own cultural expression? And is attacking cultural appropriation an effective means of addressing social inequality? 

If art becomes a battleground for the cultural wars, can it survive? In her introduction Dr Wendy Earle will explore the issues at stake for practising artists and the development of the arts, after which she will face questions and comments from our critical panel before audience discussion.

Speaker: Wendy Earle writes on the arts and culture for spiked and is convenor of the Institute of Ideas Arts and 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...

Critical Panel: t.b.c.

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, 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/


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