Not so local heroes at Dott?

The organisers of the Designs of the Time festival in the North East have been rebuffing accusations of hypocrisy today, following reports that one of Dott’s award-winning projects was propped up by money from the public purse.

An investigation reported in Blueprint magazine reveals that Dott’s Town Meal project, organised on 22 September in Middlesbrough, required an injection of £10 000 from organisers to buy food that was supposed to have been grown by the local community.

The Design Council, which backed the Dott festival along with the One North East Regional Development Agency, has issued a statement fully denying the allegations and suggests £10 000 was the cost of the whole event. Dott director John Thackara also denies the reports.

The Town Meal event was designed to be a celebratory feast of locally grown food to demonstrate the potential of sustainable community consumption in the society of the future. It was part of Middlesbrough’s Urban Farming initiative, which took top prize at the Dott Awards last month (DW 25 October).

With the support of Middlesbrough Council, the organisers invited 1000 people from the local community to take part in the Urban Farming project, which sought to make use of the city’s surplus land for growing fruit and vegetables. Dott awards judges singled out the scheme two weeks ago, giving it the Creative Community Award and the Journal People’s Voice Award, two out of four of their awards to honour sustainable achievement.

However, Blueprint’s report suggests that, owing to a lack of food for the event, the organisers paid a local greengrocer to top up the fruit and vegetables for the feast.

‘I am outraged by these claims,’ says Dott executive producer Robert O’Dowd. ‘We did spend some money on dry food for the meal and soup for the onlookers, but nothing like this amount, and there is no evidence to back up the story.’

The Design Council confirms that £1700 was spent on soup for non participants attending the Town Meal event.

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  • nick November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It seems you didn’t let the facts get in the way of this story.

  • Guy November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Despite the protestations it is hard to accept the answers from the Design Council given their need to justify at all costs their various hairbrained initiatives in order to maintain their funding from any region or department daft enough to give it to them.
    What a pity design companies cannot receive the Design Council money and use it to subsidise on the job training which is not only needed but has been provided free of cost for many years by companies such as ours.
    If all the Design Council has become is a soup kitchen for the North East then please disband. Designers deserve better for the money they pay in taxes.

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

    Well what a surprise another DC smoke and mirrors story!.
    Irrespective of the truth regards prop up funding for food – the North East Design Community is starving largely due to the big slice of the pie enjoyed by the University public sector funded initiatives that are strangling the private sector.
    We are all in agreement that research based activity should be funded but not physical design consultancy that through tax payers money bites the hand that feeds it.
    No-one can argue with the PR value of DOTT 07 or the role of the DC in raising awareness of design – but let’s be honest – it’s a luxurious public funded scenario when the reality is that those who proffer strategic design as a profession in the same region are being starved out by pubic sector initiatives. How can that be acceptable?.

  • Ian Collingwood November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    As the Councils lead officer on this project I am appauled by the ill informed manner in which this story has been reported. The truth is, and I should know as the budget holder, we did not have £1,000 to spend on food never mind £10,000. The reality was and is, that barring the purchae of dry goods e.g. pasta, all produce was grown within a five mile radius of the town centre.

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