ANGER OVER FUND­ING FOR ART PROJECTS Ar­chi­tect is ac­cused of wast­ing tax­pay­ers’ money

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Opinion - Rus­sell Find­lay

An ar­chi­tect be­hind projects in some of Scot­land’s poor­est com­mu­ni­ties has been ac­cused of wast­ing tax­pay­ers’ cash.

Lee Ivett, 37, gets fund­ing from ar­eas such as Glas­gow’s Mil­ton and Go­van – but crit­ics say his schemes make no dif­fer­ence to peo­ple liv­ing there.

He is de­scribed as an “ur­ban­ist with a track record of de­vel­op­ing trans­for­ma­tional long-term projects”.

But Ivett was filmed telling a Dundee au­di­ence: “I go to places and at­tempt to make them a lit­tle less s*** than they are.”

One of his projects “River­side Sol­i­dar­ity” is short listed for a pres­ti­gious Ar­chi­tects Jour­nal award to be an­nounced this week.

Last sum­mer, Ivett and artist Ben Perry cre­ated a struc­ture made from old ropes from Go­van’s former ship­yards. Ivett said: “Our aim was to metaphor­i­cally and lit­er­ally cut out the ‘noise’ in Go­van and seek a way of un­der­stand­ing the ter­ri­tory on our own terms.”

Ivett’s rope pro­ject lasted just 48 hours be­fore it was set on fire by youths.

James Hol­loway, of Go­van Com­mu­nity Pro­ject, said: “It lasted two days and then the young team who hang about the dry dock torched it.

“There was a bit of spin put on it, but it was re­ally the youths say­ing how dare they come into their space. Of­ten the only peo­ple of­ten em­pow­ered by these projects are the artists com­ing in and mak­ing a name for them­selves and build­ing a port­fo­lio.” Esme Clarke, sec­re­tary of Go­van Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, said: “We’re very keen to look at the his­tory of Go­van but I don’t know if this was one of the best ideas or best use of pub­lic money.”

The Go­van pro­ject was deemed so suc­cess­ful that Ivett trav­elled to Gdansk in Poland to carry out sim­i­lar work.

He was backed by Cre­ative Scot­land, the Univer­sity of the West of Scot­land and the pro­ject also re­ceived £50,000 from the Na­tional Lot­tery.

Ivett is prominent in Glas­gow’s Mil­ton, an area blighted by crime and poor health.

His “Odd Num­bers” idea in 2012 in­volved bury­ing 365 small ce­ramic an­i­mals.

The pro­ject was a col lab­o­ra­tion in­volv­ing Ivett, artist Ni­cola Atkin­son and char­ity Love Mil­ton. At least £23,000 was se­cured f rom the Ar ts and Hu­man­i­ties Re­search Coun­cil.

The ob­jects were buried on waste ground in Sk­er­ray Street “to cre­ate a per­ma­nent place of mem­ory and a fu­ture place of ar­chae­ol­ogy”. Ivett had also iden­ti­fied the site for an­other pro­ject – a com­mu­nity cen­tre, or “ur­ban sanc­tu­ary”, con­structed from beer cans, 500 tyres, 12 ship­ping con­tain­ers, 300 pal­lets and straw bales.

The scheme se­cured Na­tional Lot­tery, Glas­gow City Coun­cil and Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment fund­ing. Love Mi lton re­ceived al­most £500,000 from tax­pay­ers, mostly via the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and its Cli­mate Chal­lenge Fund.

Fur­ther grants of £2.2million were also re­ceived. But the plan was moth­balled when the coun­cil wanted £ 350,000 for the derelict land.

Ivett also cre­ated an out­door “eco” class­room at Mil­ton­bank Pri­mary school in the area. It was made from a ship­ping con­tainer and junk. Work be­gan in 2011 and it took four years to com­plete.

But due to safety con­cerns, Glas­gow City Coun­cil or­dered it to be de­mol­ished – af­ter it was used only once by pupils.

Around £33,000 came from the Cli­mate Chal­lenge Fund to fi­nance the pro­ject.

Scot­land’s poverty in­dus­try is un­der the spot­light thanks to rap­per Dar­ren “Loki” McGar­vey’s best- sell­ing book Poverty Sa­fari.

McGar­vey – raised in Glas­gow’s Pol­lok – crit­i­cised projects such as Ivett’s.

He said: “In com­mu­ni­ties which have been po­lit­i­cally and so­cially ex­cluded for decades, you can un­der­stand the scep­ti­cism when un­fa­mil­iar peo­ple turn up in their scheme us­ing third- sec­tor jar­gon, with what ap­pear to be re­sources and funds lo­cals can’t ac­cess.

“I can think of projects al­ready based in ar­eas like Go­van and Mil­ton which ex­ist in a con­stant state of cri­sis re­gard­ing their long-term fu­tures.”

Mi lton cam­paigner Alex O’Kane com­pared Ivett’s projects to Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen’s Em­peror’s New Clothes.

O’Kane said: “It’s like the story be­cause we’re led to be­lieve that only clever peo­ple can see the benefits of these projects, no mat­ter how ridicu­lous they are.

“For­tunes are wasted on ideas that have no legacy for the com­mu­nity.”

Pre­ston-born Ivett said: “The work in Mil­ton and Go­van doesn’t demon­strate or f it the Poverty Sa­fari nar­ra­tive de­scribed in Dar­ren’s book.

“In both in­stances, I have made a longert­erm com­mit­ment to the area ei­ther by be­ing di­rectly em­ployed and man­aged by a lo­cal group or based my prac­tice there and tried to in­vest in the place.

“Most of the work was just day-to-day mak­ing and build­ing stuff to try and cre­ate more choice and op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple who have been de­nied ac­cess to things that most peo­ple take for granted.

“At the point at which I knew or was told I was no longer needed within a sit­u­a­tion, I al­ways re­moved myself.”

PROJECTS Ivett build­ing out­door class­room, left, and with ce­ramic an­i­mal

ROPEY Lee Ivett, right, and a col­league used hawsers to build struc­ture

SCEPTIC Dar­ren McGar­vey

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