Evolving Thoughts Towards A Manifesto for the East Leeds Project, June 2021

To facilitate the emergence of ‘locally embedded, political motivated and intellectually ambitious’ spaces (following Andrea Phillips) where work can proceed discursively with opportunities to learn, think and reflect together.

To pay attention, so to foreground the hidden histories of East Leeds and to amplify the voices and untold stories of its people.

To explore the potential of ‘east’.

To listen to history, in order to produce informed and effective work in the present, to change the narrative and to challenge lazy perceptions of our community and the people who live here.

To stimulate local economies.

To prioritise the positive contributions that we can make

To foreground collaborative approaches and to build alliances that challenge the competitive landscape of the arts and enable us to achieve more together than we can by acting alone.

To amplify, facilitate and enable, building capacity in ourselves and others.

To work respectfully and sensitively, treating others in the way we would like to be treated and aspiring to be open to all who walk with us, without judgement.

To strive towards greater inclusion and accessibility in everything we do and to question our own biases.

To welcome. To break bread together.

To care.

To be a learning organisation and to share our learning openly and transparently with others.

To use language carefully.

To keep the conversation going.

To seek out research that enables us to think deeply and to embed opportunities to contribute to research in everything we do.

To proceed slowly and iteratively. To double back and start again if needs be.

To be bold and unafraid of failure, questioning what failure really means.

To hold ourselves to account.

To seek out others who share our values and challenge those who don’t.

To tread lightly on the earth, placing environmental sustainability up front in all of our decision-making processes.

To foreground equitable practices, including paying people fairly, navigating by published rates of pay and best practice guidelines.

To challenge outmoded, inappropriate and harmful practices and corporate cultures in the arts, working towards more people-centered approaches.

To make art politically, not to make political art (following Thomas Hirschhorn). 

To build a community of contemporary practice and a specialist visual arts organisation in East Leeds while questioning the definition of these terms.

To work in solidarity with colleagues across the visual arts and to contribute to addressing issues of collective concern.

To decentre, challenging the increasing centralisation and commercialisation of art.

To be awake to the challenges inherent in processes of institutionalisation in the arts, and to think towards other ways of being.

To insist (remember) that culture is ordinary (following Raymond Williams).

To place artists at the heart of everything we do.


To acknowledge that this is a code we aspire to while admitting that we fall short and can always do better.