Mixed verdict delivered on Glasgow architecture festival
The director of a research company which found that the £27 million Glasgow year of Architecture and Design created only 10-20 full time jobs in the sector has hit back at media criticism and claimed that benefits to the city and its design community have been much more far reaching.
Liz Shiel of independent consultant DTZ Pieda estimated that the 1999 festival produced between 1000 and 1200 full-time years of employment or, in other words, between 1000 and 1200 people were employed as a direct result.
The 10-20 jobs figure was 'not just misleading, it is simply untrue', she said, claiming that the timing of the survey meant that the effects of the event were only beginning to be felt and those surveyed found it difficult to quantify its impact in those terms. 'And anyway, there wasn't a job creation target, ' said Shiel. 'It had a much more subtle effect - it was more to do with raising the profile of architecture and design in the city.'
But the statistics in the report will not all make easy reading for the show's organiser, Deyan Sudjic. Compiled after telephone interviews with 55 firms - around half of them architects in the city - as well as further interviews with 500 residents, 500 tourists and 250 firms across the UK, the survey declares that the major goals and aims of the programme were all met. But 25 per cent of those called disagreed with the notion that Glasgow 1999 had an 'exciting and popular programme of events' (40 per cent agreed). The majority of Glaswegians (51 per cent) felt it had not increased their interest in architecture. And neither were the numbers of Glaswegians or tourists attending the shows particularly encouraging - just 26 per cent of locals and 7 per cent of tourists went to even one.
Neil Baxter, who applied to run the event and lives in one of the Ushida Findlay 'Homes for the Future' flats built as a legacy of the year, slammed Glasgow 1999.'The event was not accessible enough for people, ' he said.'And if you divide the spend by the number of people who visited you get a per head subsidy of £32, which is very high - it should have been no more than £5.'
About 850,000 attended the principal shows. Baxter said a popular festival needed people such as footballer Ally McCoist and celebrity Carol Smillie to 'immediately get people's engagement'.
But Glasgow-based Gordon Murray and Alan Dunlop Architects said the event had raised the profile of good design among the city's planners.'Had it not have been for Glasgow 1999 then we wouldn't have been able to design our hotel on Bath Street as we did, ' said Alan Dunlop.'The planners simply would not have let it go through.' The hotel features a stainless steel cantilevered roof and a full height glazed facade. And over a third of businesses said they had felt 'a positive impact on their business', almost half of design firms had found 1999-related work and 12 per cent of businesses said their turnovers will increase as a result.
Another legacy of the event was the £12 million Lighthouse architecture centre, branded 'a major success' by DTZ Pieda because of the 'extremely high quality of the building', visitor numbers, perceptions and 'image benefits for the city'.