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.