Lighthouse collapse blamed on ‘poor leadership’

The Lighthouse’s former director Stuart MacDonald is blaming the Scottish design centre’s decline into administration yesterday on ‘poor leadership’.

MacDonald, who led The Lighthouse for eight years from its foundation in 1999, calls the news a ‘disastrous tragedy’, and says he would consider returning to the Glasgow gallery in an advisory role if the leadership team changes.

Currently under the directorship of Nick Barley, the organisation is reported to be in £220 000 worth of debt. This comes after the Six Cities Design Festival, managed by The Lighthouse, was cancelled, and losses were incurred in mounting the Venice Biennale project.

Barclay Price, director of Arts & Business Scotland, says that The Lighthouse had suffered as its Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed home was too far off the beaten track, despite being in the centre of Glasgow. He adds that the building is ‘difficult to get people through’. Price adds the organisation had also suffered as it is ‘one of a kind’ and doesn’t sit in the normal funding profile for the Scottish Arts Council.

Dave Moutrey, chief executive of Manchester arts centre Cornerhouse, sympathises with the plight of The Lighthouse, admitting, ‘We have also noticed a drop in sponsorship.’ He warns that, ‘This is the worst time in 15 years to have to put together a crisis plan relying on private money.’

MacDonald calls on ‘able people’ to come up with ‘interesting ideas to save The Lighthouse’, and claims that ‘there is still lots of goodwill towards the gallery’.

Hide Comments (9)Show Comments (9)
Comments
  • Victor Brierley November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It’s been a subject of debate here and we’ve had people fulminating! Hopefully, for those outside Glasgow, this might give a bit of background.
    http://dunningdesign.wordpress.com/

  • Alex Milton November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Readers might wish to look and comment on ‘The Lighthouse—Renewed’ http:lighthouserenewed.ning.com

    A blog set up to see whether the Design, Architecture and Art communities come up with a range of constructive suggestions for the future of the Lighthouse.

  • Neil McGuire November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Classic bit of attempted self-publicity on the back of the unfortunate administration of an institution which has done a lot of good work over the years (and some not so good, though if dunning design cared to look at their own back catalogue, they might not be so critical). Glass houses, stones etc. And people haven’t been ‘fulminating’ — one person asked a constructive question of what dunning design were advocating. Just for the record, for those outside scotland, the views promoted by dunning design are not representative of the scottish design community, nor is dunning design (as they claim on their website) “one of Scotland’s leading Creative Communications consultancies, operating in a ‘360 degree’ media environment”, whatever the hell that marketing garbage means.

    A good institution has shut, people have lost jobs, a potential hub to help the scottish design and architecture has gone, and it’s used as a cheap means of directing traffic to a corporate blog. sad.

  • Maxine J Horn November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Stuart MacDonald formerly at the helm of the Lighthouse put it firmly on the map. His achievements and work much admired by many including the BDI team. It was his heart, soul and acumen that created the DNA that new management handed the golden key failed to do anything more than bask in its golden glow.

    Nick Barley is a totally nice guy – but nice guy was not enough. Commercial focus was lacking and empowerment of senior staff also. It doesn’t take long for a strong ship to begin listing when the helm is left unattended by a Captain without a compass.

    That said – the Lighthouse – a great building with huge potential in the right hands – should be given a new lease of life. Bring back Mr. MacDonald to get it back on course. Scotland – a country with creativity in abundance – needs a clubhouse. If London’s Soho House and the ilk can maintain status and income – so can the Lighthouse. Install a bar, B2B meeting areas for creative’s and their client guests and charge an annual membership fee – and don’t rely on public sector funds – and it might just work.

    BDI ran a couple of its events at Lighthouse – and would do more as the primary creative venue. It could work but only if it becomes the ‘destination’ venue for Scotland’s plentiful and talented creative industries rather than an ‘exhibition centre’ for a largely dis-interested public.

    Good luck to Trondgate – we’ll check it out – but beware Empourers new clothes.

  • Neil McGuire November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Just to clarify, my initial comments about self-publicity related to dunning design, not to the other two commenters.

    And to reiterate alex’s comments, that if anyone has genuinely creative and positive suggestions for the future of the lighthouse or other similar venue, to head to http:lighthouserenewed.ning.com — far more useful than the personal criticism or praising of certain individuals. As someone deeply involved in the design community, and working here in scotland, we all know the relative successes/problems at the lighthouse run far deeper than any single individual.

    And it’s ‘trongate’, not trondgate, and that’s a renovated building housing various arts organisations and individual artists studios, not a centre for architecture and design. http://www.trongate103.com/

  • Duncan Macdonald November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I’d just like to concur with Neil’s statements here.

    Personally I find this move by Dunning Design to attract a bit of attention to their own blog pretty vulgar, given the situation.
    I accept that they specialise in meaningless, Nathan Barley-esque nonsense marketing lingo, but this isn’t the time or place for snide self-promotion.

  • Maxine J Horn November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Neil – you’re right. This is not about specific individuals. My comment really meant that the dedicated and hardworking Lighthouse team had a hard act to follow. Scotland’s creative industries need some glue – the Lighthouse could have been (and hopefully still can be) that glue. If the focus is on the ‘people’ working in the industry and facilities are provided for them to use the space supporting their professional needs – they could become its greatest Ambassadors.

    Our members rarely visit the Lighthouse as they have no sense of belonging to it. That’s what I personally feel needs to be addressed to stand a chance of concluding a rescure plan. I’ll visit the ‘positive’ link you proposed.

    One last wee comment is that I don’t feel that Dunning Design meant to use the opportunity as purely self-promotion. They probably took a fast route to expressing their views already under discussion on their blog.

  • Maxine J Horn November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Neil – you’re right. This is not about specific individuals. My comment really meant that the dedicated and hardworking Lighthouse team had a hard act to follow. Scotland’s creative industries need some glue – the Lighthouse could have been (and hopefully still can be) that glue. If the focus is on the ‘people’ working in the industry and facilities are provided for them to use the space supporting their professional needs – they could become its greatest Ambassadors.

    Our members rarely visit the Lighthouse as they have no sense of belonging to it. That’s what I personally feel needs to be addressed to stand a chance of concluding a rescure plan. I’ll visit the ‘positive’ link you proposed.

    One last wee comment is that I don’t feel that Dunning Design meant to use the opportunity as purely self-promotion. They probably took a fast route to expressing their views already under discussion on their blog.

  • Neil McGuire November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    There are problems at the Lighthouse, hence the situation it finds itself in. Some of them are of its own making and some are due to outside factors. I agree about the sense of community, but that is not entirely the Lighthouses fault. However, positive suggestions as to how this could be addressed (agree with some of your earlier suggestions about social aspect) are always very welcome.

    In stark contrast to that notion of looking forward and finding a way out of this situation, I just feel that the likes of Dunning Design are donning the hindsight goggles, taking a deep breath, and issuing a poorly considered and badly argued list of what they think was wrong with the place, after the event. If they’re really creative (one of scotlands leading creative agencies according to themselves) then surely they must be able to come up with at least one specific constructive and creative suggestion for where to go from here, rather than just saying that everything about the lighthouse was wrong. I heartily invite them on to the lighthouse—renewed site (lighthouserenewed.ning.com), and look forward to their positive creative suggestions. I also stand by my original comment regarding their cynical self-publicity on design week. Their comment here was posted at 2.57pm on wed 26th, claiming that debate was raging over on their site, when in reality, at that time, only two people had left comments, neither of which were particularly controversial. I know this makes me a tedious pedant, and apologise, but am annoyed by individual companies seeking to generate publicity from other’s misfortune. (And I realise too that this comment just adds more to their publicity so even if riled, i’m going to sit on my hands from now on.)

  • Post a comment

Latest articles

Remembering Jon Daniel: 1966-2017

We look back on the life and work of the Design Week columnist, independent creative director and social activist “who helped put black participation on the political map”.