Regional cities can benefit from design

Design is set to play a central role in attracting business and tourism and improving the quality of life in regional centres as Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester emerge as “world cities” in the next millennium, says a new report.

In its Planning for Local Change report released last week, the Henley Centre for Forecasting says the single European currency will increase competition between cities across Europe.

Kevin Kane, head of creative industries and multimedia at economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, identifies six criteria for measuring city performance – learning, creativity, Greenness, law and order, economy and communication. Design has a role to play in improving these, he says.

None of the civic marketing agencies for the cities named has a total strategy for promotion at present. But by making bids for the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, for example, Manchester has developed a sense of self-worth that has infected all sections of the community, according to Marie Mohan, communications director at Marketing Manchester.

Home to the Hallé Orchestra, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall draws audiences and performers from Europe and the US. The identity and publicity material designed as part of a three-year programme by Manchester’s Hemisphere design consultancy works on the principle that a programme is a tangible experience integrally related to being there.

Kane warns that “designers don’t tend to put down very deep roots, and need to speak for the rest of the community”.

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