So, we’re not creative then?

Or at least, it seems, that’s what the Guardian wants us to believe. I’m not a fan of the paper, and it’s not the lack of political alignment; it’s just a little too much fur coat and no knickers for me. Yes, the paper is very well presented; in my humble opinion it’s the best designed of the dailies, but it’s a newspaper, not a picture book and it is written to be read and should be judged that way.

To be fair I only tend to read the articles that concern Leeds. I’m always keen to see what the Nationals have to say about our fine City and in turn, how it’s portrayed to the rest of the UK.

Their latest effort came in the form of a review of the Art Hostel by Manchester-based Tony Naylor. If you’ve not heard of this wonderful place on Eastgate you should check it out, as the team behind East Street Arts have done a great job and it’s well worth a visit. I digress. What concerned me about this piece was not the depiction of the venue, which, bar the odd inaccuracy was OK; it was the nonsense that accompanied the review that I took exception to. Mr Naylor, from Manchester, took the opportunity to sing the praises of his home city and of Liverpool while suggesting that Leeds lacks any notable creativity. Now if you knew Leeds you would know this to be untrue but if you are a Guardian reader from over the Pennines or elsewhere, you might not and now you have been painted a picture of Leeds far adrift from the reality. That’s not good for the reader and it’s certainly not good for Leeds.

Let’s take a look at his ‘findings’

“Back To Basics and Vague popularised glam clubbing”

Vague, yes and he could have thrown in Speed Queen but Basics, I disagree. That was and still is primarily about the music, pure unadulterated House Music and some very creative DJ’s to play it.

“only two notable breweries”

If by notable he means the ones he knows of then maybe, but at the time of writing there are 19 breweries in Leeds. Northern Monk, North Brew, Kirkstall, Zapato, Sunbeam, Ridgeside and The Beak are all forward-thinking and I’d wager a good measure of creativity goes into brewing their delicious and highly respected beverages.

“a city of consumption, not creativity”

Absurdly, he then goes on to suggest that the only trait one needs to produce outstanding food and earn a Michelin Star is one’s readiness to consume.

At this point I admit, I’m becoming a little agitated but it gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view) when he goes on to state that hostels of this kind are “in most UK cities”. In case you hadn’t realised, and perhaps he hasn’t, there are 69 cities in the UK. I have spent some time researching on Google and am yet to find similar places into double figures. However, if he wants to furnish me with the names and addresses of the 60 odd art hostels that he knows of then I’ll happily publish a retraction.

We are not a city of consumers sitting around waiting for the latest box of greatness to arrive from Manchester. Although we still have a way to go and the creative scene in the City does need pushing more, Leeds increasingly stands shoulder to shoulder with its great cousin from the West, not in its shadow.

Yes, the long exposure shot of the exterior by Tom Williamson is lovely but the words, in my opinion, are not. However, if you want to draw your own conclusions then you can, right here –

Lazy, poorly researched journalism by people who should really know better should not be tolerated and can’t be held together by or hide behind a well-presented publication. There are enough people out there who still believe most of what they read which can make journalism dangerous. Maybe the Guardian would serve its readers better by employing the services of someone who knows Leeds before they try to educate the masses in something they clearly know little about.

Art Hostel

If you want to see what we thought of the Art Hostel then you can, right here art-culture/the-art-hostel-an-artists-haven-on-historic-kirkgate


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Paul Simon

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As Editor-in-Chief, Paul oversees the implementation and delivery of our content strategy. He's also been known to write the odd article when the need arises.

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