Beware the drawbacks when building a city’s profile

So Edinburgh is joining the fray in the bid to become a global city (DW 17 June). I guess it has missed out on the obvious promotional opportunities, having been beaten by its arch rival Glasgow in the 1990s, and more recently Liverpool, to the European City of Culture title, and now feels it has to make its own mark.

Maybe it is better for Edinburgh to take this route to fame, controlling its own destiny every step of the way. After all, while a combination of hosting the 1992 Olympics and winning the ‘city of culture’ tag has done wonders for Barcelona, can you think of any other city that has flourished as an international centre for both business and tourism, as a direct result of these high profile ventures?

Athens has learned to its cost – literally – that Olympic success doesn’t come cheap – and it can potentially tarnish a city’s track record when it comes to getting things done. Those behind London’s bid for 2012 Olympics certainly aren’t finding wholehearted support for their activities. Meanwhile, Liverpool is already going through the grief of public dissent over Will Alsop’s Fourth Grace – a feature of its 2008 European City of Culture status.

Given these examples, is it really worth jumping on to a bandwagon just to get your city on the map? I’d be interested to hear what the likes of national branding expert Wally Olins make of this situation.

Simon Greengross

SG Projects

London EC2V

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