A group from some of the Netherlands' leading cultural institutions has just visited Leeds to share and learn about involving communities better in cultural activities.
Over two days, they visited a range of venues and met with practitioners to discuss best practice in Leeds and the Netherlands.
The Dutch group included participants from:
CultuurKlik / Cultuurzaam Regional umbrella for culture, education and participation North;
Together, they are the founders of the national Trial Setup for Cultural Capability and Cultural Encounter and everyone in their party has professional roots in the arts and/or education.
Some of the group visited the School of Arts at Leeds Beckett University to meet with senior leaders at Music Local and Leeds Music Education Partnership. This session was to understand the local, regional and national situation around music funding, participation and partnership working.
Others visited Space2, at The Old Fire Station, to discuss their work with the leadership team about community working, creative programming and neighbourhood strategies.
This was followed by an afternoon at Leeds Playhouse, seeing the creative ‘Heydays’ session in action, meeting with senior members of the team to learn about Playhouse Connect, their creative access work and a guided tour of the theatre. Leeds City Council followed this with a session on Play Sufficiency and their work in the city, around the Play strategy and cross sector working.
Leeds 2023 has been involved in an 18-month Leeds-Dutch cultural exchange programme, and offered a tour of their current exhibition, ‘This is a Forest’ followed by an informal catch up with delegates.
The Dutch visitors have jointly developed a Cultural Encounters Toolkit, and on Day 2, they delivered a session on this at The University of Leeds. Practitioners across the Leeds cultural sector were invited to join and learn about the insights and tools they have distilled to help those involved in participatory and community engaged arts practices.
These tools aim to include perspectives of practitioners, management and policy makers equitably and without an enforced hierarchy. The event offered a unique opportunity for cultural professionals who were seeking fresh perspectives and were eager, to delve into socially-engaged practices.
The group also had the opportunity to learn about the work of the University of Leeds's Centre for Cultural Value (CCV) from researchers who highlighted some of the key research themes that CCV is working on, including community, place, and identity. This session also focused on how they have developed engaged research processes and co-creation methodologies.
The visitors also met with MAP Charity and Sable Radio, to discuss their work around inclusion and working within the community, and an additional session on restorative and relational practice when working with communities.
The trip ended with a visit to the pioneering performance of High Times and Dirty Monsters, a celebratory and hard-hitting hip hop gig theatre show with creative captioning, integrated sign language and integrated audio description.
If you are interested in learning more about the Leeds approach to any of these issues, please get in touch with Lisa Turney at firstname.lastname@example.org