£27m design festival 'has created just 10 jobs'

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The Independent Online

A £27m celebration of design and architecture in Glasgow was at the centre of an unseemly dispute yesterday because the glittering event may have created as few as 10 design jobs.

A £27m celebration of design and architecture in Glasgow was at the centre of an unseemly dispute yesterday because the glittering event may have created as few as 10 design jobs.

Independent consultants employed to evaluate the Glasgow 1999 festival found it failed to reach primary targets for boosting its design community, despite providing important financial benefits to the city's economy overall.

A 114-page appraisal of the festival by the London-based firm DTZ Pieda also found that 75 per cent of Glasgow's residents could not recall attending any of the exhibitions or events during the festival.

The document estimates that the 523 design houses in Scotland's biggest city have been unable to create more than between 10 and 20 posts in total from business generated by the festival.

The figures provoked disagreement between organisers and designers and architects over the benefits of Glasgow 1999, the centrepiece of which was the £13m Lighthouse national centre for architecture and design.

One of the stated aims of the 12-month extravaganza was that it should "celebrate excellence in architecture and design from around the world in ways that can be enjoyed by the widest possible audience".

The event, which took four years to plan, was to promote the "cultural and economic importance" of design, and establish Glasgow as "a major European city of ideas", according to its published goals.

But Peter Wilson, director of Scottish architecture campaign group Manifesto, said: "I think an opportunity was missed to transform the industry in this country because of various delays and misconceptions. That very few direct design jobs have been created, unfortunately, is not a surprise."

Dr James Macauley, an honorary research fellow at Glasgow's Mackintosh School of Architecture and Design, added: "This report fulfils my worst expectations. I never felt the programme was going to be sufficiently popular with the average Glaswegian."

The report found that less than 40 per cent of Glasgow residents agreed that the 1999 programme had created an exciting and popular range of events and that many had only a "superficial" interest in design and architecture.

But it also highlighted significant gains for Glasgow from the year-long event, with its economy receiving between £44m and £47m of extra expenditure from new construction and visitors.

A spokesman for the consultancy said it found the major goals and aims of the event, although "largely qualitative and aspirational", had been met.

Extra income for the city's businesses and homes was put at £18m, while employment worth 1,200 "full-time job years" was also created through permanent and temporary jobs linked to the festival.

Stuart MacDonald, director of the Lighthouse centre, said: "I think it is disingenuous to suggest the festival failed because of job-creation figures.

"The design community in Glasgow has benefited significantly in real terms from last year by raising the profile of the work being done here and seeing products achieve success on the open market."

Products from the Glasgow Collection, a set of designs by Scottish designers marketed with public and private backing, have been put on open sale, including the award-winning Ursula steel bath and Chasm chair.

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