Six Cities design festival cancelled

The 2010 Six Cities Design Festival has been suspended, and the five full-time staff who were managing it have been made redundant, after the Scottish government refused to provide funding.

The 2010 festival was to be the follow-up to 2007’s inaugural event – held across six Scottish cities – which attracted some 300 000 people to more than 300 exhibitions, lectures and workshops.

It received £3m from the Scottish government and the backing of former First Minister Jack McConnell’s Labour administration. McConnell said at the time, ‘An investment in creativity is [one] that pays dividends. The creative industries support thousands of Scottish jobs and generate billions of pounds for our economy.’

But the Scottish government, now led by the Scottish National Party’s Alex Salmond, confirmed it would not be funding the event in 2010.

A Scottish government spokesman says, ‘The Six Cities Design Festival was an initiative promoted by the previous administration.

‘[We are] not convinced there is sufficient evidence of a long-term impact or legacy to justify the level of investment required, or that a short festival of this kind in 2010 is a cost-effective way to support the design sector as a whole.’

Plans for the 2010 festival were being put together by five full-time staff at the Lighthouse, Scotland’s centre for architecture, design and the city in Glasgow. A spokesman for the Lighthouse confirmed that all five staff had been made redundant. The Scottish government’s decision was met by criticism from the design community.

Alan Pert, co-founder of Glasgow-based Nord Architecture, says, ‘I was hoping some momentum could be built up from the festival. Now it’s just tokenistic – it gives the design community a bad name.’

Paul Simmons, co-founder of Glasgow group Timorous Beasties, says, ‘Politicians don’t get it, these things take time. It’s a waste of money if it’s just once.’

Nick Barley, director of the Lighthouse, says, ‘We’re disappointed, but we are sure the Scottish government will be looking at other ways to support design in Scotland.’

Key events from the 2007 Festival

Aberdeen – Designer double-bill talk with Charles Holland of Fat and Alan Pert of Nord

Dundee – A specially commissioned comic, See New Worlds, from Dundee-based DC Thomson

Edinburgh – Northern City: Between Light and Dark, a series of installations around the city created by artists including Turner Prize-nominated Nathan Coley

Glasgow – The festival’s national exhibition, The Scottish Show 07 at the Lighthouse

Inverness – Designer double-bill talk with Wayne Hemingway and Alasdair and Neil Stephen from architect Dualchas

Stirling – Designer double-bill talk with Peter Saville and Robert Johnson of design consultancy Pause Button Edit

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