Archive for 2009

RIP The Lighthouse. Welcome, some other Design/Creative place?

As the beam is turned off at The Lighthouse, Scotland’s ultra-expensive, one-time exemplar for design excellence, another Glasgow ‘centre of creativity’ opens, less than a mile away! Now, pedants could argue that there’s a big difference between ‘design’ and ‘creativity’ but the closing of one £multi-million ‘venue’ to be replaced by a pretty similar (and no doubt rather expensive) one along the road, it could be seen at best as bad planning, at worst as an incredible bloody waste of public money.

Creativity is how we make our living, so we’re not suggesting for a moment that we shouldn’t have incredibly exciting centres of burgeoning creativity in Scotland’s biggest cities. Of COURSE we should, it just seems that the timing’s erm…a wee bit embarrassing? The City fathers have known that The Lighthouse’s ‘coat has been on a shaky nail’ for ages, probably years. So, whilst the assembled creative/arts/design mandarins were wringing their hands, worrying what to do with this perceived White Elephant and stringing together all sorts of rescue packages, there was ANOTHER similar innovative design/creative space being planned, just a wee stroll away, down The Trongate.

Again, we’re aware that the pompous, arty-farty-weegie sort would suggest the now deid Lighthouse and the newborn Trongate 103 (I think that’s what it’s called) are chalk and cheese, poles apart, aimed at different audiences, working to a different remit, headed-up by different people, funded differently, blah blah blah. Well, ‘chalk and cheese’, we’d agree on that, cos one’s dead (some would say it was stillborn) and the other’s newly-created, blinking, shiny and fresh, basking in the first rays of publicity.

But for these two scenarios to be unravelling (and ravelling?) at the same time? They may be very different spaces but the point is, if we’ve made a pig’s ear of one place, simply to replace it with a similar-ish type place, is this not a bit short-sighted and a tad un-joined up? One fabulous Arts space, struggling to justify itself? Who cares? We’ll just build another! Surely Glasgow or even Scotland’s ‘Design’ bodies are better ‘connected’ and strung together than this?

We wish Trongate’s new place all the best, we’ll go there, we’ll support if and we’ll give it credit, where credit’s due. However, the Lighthouse (building) will be sitting there, magnificient but unfulfilled.  ‘Arts’  venues (for want of a better word) can be all-inclusive, fun, non-po-faced and above all, commercially viable. It’s hard work, but feasible, they don’t have to be skint, ulta-exclusive and elitist can-rattlers and funding drains.

The problem with the Lighthouse was it preached to the converted. Nobody who wasn’t a ‘designer’ or an ‘architect’ ever went there. It lacked everyman appeal and it didn’t reach out to families or the person in the street.

Hopefully we can learn from mistakes and this new place in the Trongate will be somewhere you can take kids, families…and grannies…and other punters who know bugger-all about ‘creativity’ or ‘design’ but simply want to have a good time? We don’t like writing design venue obituaries!

For she's a jolly good Fellow…

Apologies for the extremely cheesy headline but it’s true, our MD Claire (Dunning) has just been made a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

The ‘CIM’ is the World’s biggest Marketing organisation and helps marketers at every stage of their career, with training, qualifications and resources.

Basically, it’s an organisation which helps businesses to get the most from their marketing people.

CIM has around 50,000 members worldwide but there are only 100 or so ‘Fellows’ in Scotland and only 10% of these ‘Fellows’ work on the ‘consultancy’ side of marketing. So, this puts Claire into the Top Ten of Marketing consultants in Scotland.

More importantly, for networking in our swish, ’29’ private member’s club and other posh Glasgow Chamber of Commerce events, she can now put the initials ‘FCIM’ after her name.

Surely this would be much more fun if they had called it a FeCIM?

Claire Dunning-FeCim, that sounds better!

The Marketer, CIM's magazine

The Marketer, CIM's magazine

Free Train Transport for all!

Thank God! At long last, it looks as if the diabolical rail infrastructure between Scotland’s two biggest cities will be getting upgraded. We’ll not hold our breath but there’s talk in the press today of six trains an hour, between Queen Street and Waverley and a journey time down to 35 minutes. At the moment, quite a few of the Dunning troops interact with ‘the rail’ and whilst general concensus is ‘it’s okay’ it’s not something that people eulogise about! If (and being cynical, we’re talking about decades of disappointment here, so it’s ‘if’) the train service was to improve, it would open up the employment market and stop the Weegie/Embra employment gulf that’s become a bit more than just a pub joke. I know that when offered two similar placements, (or even a potential new senior member of the team) one from Edinburgh and one from Glasgow, we’re probably not the only firm who’d opt for the person nearest them. Not for parochial reasons but for pretty well-founded ‘transport-problem’ reasons. For those of use who have, at some time or another, had to endure the daily Embra-Glesga commute, is it something you’d willingly subject even the keenest student or potential hard-working member of your team to?

This £1billion investment also has to be great news for the slightly-upgraded drovers track that is the M8. This currently appalling and embarrassing link between Scotland’s two main cities could become  increasingly surplus to requirements, if the rail service ran, frequently, with late trains AND at a reasonable cost.

After this announcement, we even got speaking about the ‘what if it was free?’ scenario. Imagine, if you had a ‘citizen’s travel pass’ that allowed you to hop on the train for free? Sure, it would take a diffferent mindset and you’d have to rejig the taxation system a bit to give free train travel to all Scots but what an opportunity. Just think, no parking problems in any major city, no frustration-related car deaths on the M8, no jams, no fumes therefore an instant problem to a lot of Scotland’s  ‘carbon’ problems.

At first, it was a bit of a joke conversation…free train travel but is it really such a bonkers idea? Imagine what it would also do for rural Scotland? Visitors are reticent to take the train because it’s expensive and doesn’t go where they want to go. This would change if the ‘free train travel’ lark caused everyone to migrate to the train network. Everyone would see the sense in trains, investment would flood in and Scotland would become a clever, joined-up World leader in transport solutions, sorting out the balls-up that Dr Beeching and his cohorts made of the railways in the 1950’s.

So, come on, the Mandarins at Hollyoaks…sorry, Hollyrood, make it happen!m8