For design, the threat to the RDAs is a real issue, the likes of One North East being exemplars of how local government can foster design. Witness One North East’s key role in the inaugural Designs of the Time programme in 2007, which continues to have resonance in the region.
But, as has been said, if the RDAs go something else will replace them. It’s about restating the case for design and building a relationship with the new authority, whatever form it takes.
Design has, in fact, never been stronger in the regions. National bodies such as the Design Business Association play some part, but umbrella organisations set up by local activists tend to set the agenda and wield more clout within their communities.
Examples include Bristol Media, now a membership body headed by its founder Mike Bennett of digital group E3 Media, members of which organised the first Long Lunch at Cowley Manor in Gloucestershire last week. The purpose was networking, but the organisation does much more to support creative businesses in the region.
The same is true of design forums representing the South West, the South Coast and Cornwall, among others, while Wired Sussex has particular responsibility for the interaction design community centred on Brighton.
Add to this the massive talent across the country – last week’s Benchmarks awards and Design Week’s latest Creative Survey, for example, were far from London-centric in their reach – and you see regional success increasing with national and international projects.
Whatever the outcome of the political debacle over the regionals, design is ready to take it on.It just needs more cohesion between regional groups and national bodies to really make it work.