Artist plan to help boost city’s cul­tural pres­ence

Evening Times - - NEWS - By PHIL MILLER

MORE than 20 artists will be in­stalled in com­mu­ni­ties across Glas­gow in a bid to shore up its cul­tural strength and com­pete against ri­val cities from around the world.

Glas­gow was crowned Euro­pean Cap­i­tal of Cul­ture in 1990 and will now strive to em­u­late those heights through “re­newal and re­gen­er­a­tion”.

Un­der wide-rang­ing plans stretch­ing out 25 years into the fu­ture, the city will also host a reg­u­lar cul­tural sum­mit where artists can gen­er­ate and ex­change ideas to drive for­ward its artis­tic am­bi­tions.

Glas­gow’s vis­ual arts scene has be­come fa­mous in­ter­na­tion­ally, with a string of artists win­ning the pres­ti­gious Turner Prize in the last two decades and many suc­cess­ful grad­u­ates of the Glas­gow School of Art.

Deputy leader David McDon­ald, the chair­man Glas­gow Life – which runs the city’s mu­se­ums, li­braries and gal­leries – said there was a “need to con­sider what’s needed to con­tinue to flour­ish as a city of cul­ture and how to com­pete against all those other cities that have de­vel­oped their own strong cul­tural of­fer­ings in re­cent years”.

The com­mit­ment to the arts has been warmly wel­comed by ‘Glas­gow Ef­fect’ artist El­lie Har­ri­son – whose re­ceipt of a £15,000 Cre­ative Scot­land grant to re­main in the city for one year sparked con­tro­versy amid claims of “poverty sa­fari”.

She said the city’s coun­cil had come up with a “great idea”.

“The cen­tral mes­sage of my year work­ing in Glas­gow in 2016 was that if we want to cre­ate a more equal, sus­tain­able and con­nected so­ci­ety, then we need more op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple, artists, ev­ery­one to work cre­atively with and in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

“This vi­tal sort of work should not just be the pre­serve of the priv­i­leged few.”

Seon­aid Daly, co-or­di­na­tor of the Scot­tish Con­tem­po­rary Art Net­work, which cham­pi­ons con­tem­po­rary art in Scot­land, said the ven­ture should be “ap­plauded”.

She added: “A co-pro­duced plan is es­sen­tial to cap­i­talise on the wealth of knowl­edge and ex­per­tise within the cre­ative sec­tor.

“How­ever, com­mu­ni­ties and artists must be en­abled and sup­ported to ini­ti­ate their own pro- jects like res­i­dences, to en­sure they ad­dress their own spe­cific needs and chal­lenges.”

Speak­ing at a City Cham­bers com­mit­tee hear­ing yes­ter­day, Mr McDon­ald said: “We be­lieve that when it comes to the re­newal and re­gen­er­a­tion of our city, we be­lieve that cul­ture is cur­rently un­der­used, or at least un­der­val­ued.

“So as a start­ing point, we will launch a scheme, in part­ner­ship with lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions, to em­ploy an artist in res­i­dence for ev­ery com­mu­nity.

“We want that to be a per­son who can cre­ate, to cham­pion lo­cal art and to fur­ther strengthen the link be­tween cul­ture at its most lo­cal level and our wider aim of im­prov­ing health, well-be­ing and qual­ity of life through­out the city.”

There will be a new lo­cal fes­ti­vals fund, he said, while the new cul­tural fo­rum would be chaired by the Lord Provost.

The plan to have an artist work­ing in ev­ery one of the 23 coun­cil wards is at the mo­ment un­costed.

Mr McDon­ald added: “We also think we can do more to sup­port our lo­cal artists. We are propos­ing to work closer than ever be­fore with the city’s artists, and in­vest in them and the work that they do.”

David McDon­ald said the move will help the city con­tinue to flour­ish

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