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The Lighthouse to go into administration

Scotland’s centre for architecture, the Lighthouse, is set to go into administration

The news, which has been blamed on a lack of income from commercial activities, follows a board meeting last night.

In a statement released to the AJ chairman of the board of trustees-Eleanor MacAllister OBE said: ‘It has been a heartbreaking decision for me and the board to bring in administrators to the Lighthouse Trust. 

‘We know the devastating effect this will have on our staff and on the partners working with us on our projects.  We have done everything possible to avoid this, but the options before us were very limited in the current economic downtown.

‘Last year we put in place, with additional support from our main funders the City Council and the Scottish Government, a crisis package to secure our immediate future to enable us to continue our education and exhibition programmes at the Lighthouse.

‘Unfortunately that new package was very dependent on maintaining the income generated from our commercial activities.  The Lighthouse business model has always required commercial income to subsidise its extensive programme. 

She added: ‘No other gallery in Scotland has to generate such a high percentage of its income from commercial sources.  However, the extra income we needed from rents, grants, conference and events just did not materialise as businesses, funders and charitable trusts cut back on their activities when the credit crunch hit.’

The Board will now work together with the administrators and the City Council to find a future of the A-listed Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed building where the Lighthouse was based.

MacAllister added: ‘We are also working to protect some of the Lighthouse’s key activities and exhibitions and to maintain public access.  Most of all, we want to find a way for the Lighthouse to continue in some way to fulfil its role as Scotland’s National Centre for Architecture, Design and the City.’

Readers' comments (28)

  • Could you add a brief sentence simply to say (a) what financial support / day would keep the Lighthouse viable and (b) what the war in Iraq costs us / day?
    Thank you.

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  • Iraq war costs 2,000k a second, you might get Norman Foster as a Director for that.

    Lighthouse seems to need just the continuing financial support from Scottish government and Glasgow City Council at the same level as before

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  • According to yesterday's Scotsman ( the Lighthouse received £2,970,000 in grants in the 2007/2008 fiscal year.

    That works out at about £8,136 per day, or 9p per second. Regardless of your thoughts on the spending priorities of the British and Scottish governments, I regard that level of dependence on external funding as both unsustainable and very risky.

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  • The Lighthouse would not be in this state if Peter Wilson was the Director. To read his weekly wrap see the Prospect website

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  • Another reason not to put a cultural organisation in the provinces. There's no interest, locals would rather spend their free time in a shopping centre.

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  • Glasgow is only intersted in binge drinking and over spending on plastic...Scotland with Style...?

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  • Edinburgh-Scotland with Substance. Glasgow should never have got it in the first place, it's culturally barren and Edinburgh is the capital city after all. Peter Wilson led a great bid in the mid 90's but Glasgow's politica "mafia" defeated him.

    He's is the only one now able to get it out of this problem I read all about his considered analysis on his weekly wrap. He's the real deal. I can't wait until his next wrap on Prospect

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  • Shame Peter Wilson is so often wrong. Funny, but wrong.

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  • What does the Lighthouse actually offer (as opposed to what it is meant to offer)...there is very little going on in the shop is expensive and very niche aimed at architects looking to buy coffee table books rather than balancing content between the professional visitor and the lay person + Vitra wont sell in Glasgow!

    Its a great piece of architecture...a Page and Park gem...BUT the exhibitions just are not up to standard...the John Lautner one was very poor in my opinion...the cafe is expensive too (which is a shame because the staff are very pleasant up there)

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  • With regards to what the Lighthouse offers, aside from the ongoing exhibitions and workshops, The Lighthouse houses the CEC (Creative Entrepreneurs Club). The CEC's a massive network for the creative industries and an example of what The Lighthouse is all about. It's active in supporting and innovating design in Glasgow. The CEC have been responsible for bringing a lot of interesting ideas and events to Glasgow that may not have generated money but have been very inspiring for designers and students.

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  • Creative Entrepreneurs...? How Ironic.

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  • Edinburgh, Scotland with substance? Please. Edinburgh, Scotland with cheap toursity crap everywhere.

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  • Can we please focus on the subject at hand - is this good news? What are the implications?

    The Lighthouse obviously has its flaws. Equally obvious is its significant and beneficial influence on Scottish architecture, design, education and culture, both in the UK and overseas.

    I hope the administration team are given the opportunity to fix the broken bits, including the building with its cafe on the top floor (geee-zo) and its cap-in-hand mentality. Keep the bits that work. It's called design.

    And by all means keep Mr Wilson supplied with donuts and the occasional chew-toy, but the suggestion that he is the saviour in the wings is difficult to take seriously. This organisation needs someone at its helm with sound business acumen and an understanding of the design community based on practical experience - qualities not usually associated with members of the design media community, despite what you might read.

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  • Well Noah, now that we have a last a serious posting this is a response worth replying to.

    The organisation does have people at the helm with serious business acumen, some of Scotland's top developers, business men and women are included and its best design community leaders.

    I would be interested to know if there is an architecture centre anywhere in the world that does not receive subsidy in one form or another, either through government funding or an endownment.

    The issue for me is not lack of expertise, contacts nor an inability to prepare a sound business plan but can be traced back to the use of the Mackintosh building as the Lighthouse Centre itself. Any critisism I have made in print before has related directly to that as being the root cause. It is inflexible and difficult to use as an exhibition space to present architecture to the public or even hold a seminar. It is also difficult to find.

    The Directors and staff have had to struggle against it for ten years and have managed to do so admirably, in my view. There have been great exhibitions there. I'm thinking about Marcel Bruer, Gillespie Kidd and Coia and despite the comments of the anonymous joker above Lautner.

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  • As far as whether this is good news is concerned, overall I think not, it's also sad for Scotland because it indicates, to me, the worth of architecture to the government and how it is regarded socially and culturally. It may be though that this gives, whoever, the opportunity to rethink how the building is used. The Vitra showroom was the best potential exhibition space after all.

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  • Hands up all those who had heard of the Lighthouse before this news?

    Thought not.

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  • not surprising, there is stupidity everywhere in the UK but someone delighting in their own ignorance is new, even on a web forum

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  • I'm far from ignorant, although no idea how ignorant you are, but I wonder how widespread in the rest of the UK and beyond has been knowledge of the existence and work of the Lighthouse until now?

    Additionally, I can see no problem with earlier comments regarding costs. Perhaps Alan Dunlop could expand on why he disregarded those?

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  • I hope the Venice Indulgence is not scape-goated as some sort of reckless vanity. It could be written-up this way but, as far as I saw (I pointed it out to some Romanian students from a vaporetto as we passed it) it was a total success. On the international stage, wee Scotland put on show something we can all be proud of.
    And yes, although the Lighthouse building was charmingly converted, it's really too big and too awkward to work easily or cost-effectively. What about a series of bus shelters or some other civic furniture displaying mini architecture exhibits? Or, better still, the countries with the best modern architecture breed more of it, not because they have better architects but simply because people, in general, are less scared of it because they're used to seeing what's really possible.

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  • I did'nt disregard the comments on cost, I don't know enough about the finances to make a meaningful contribution, that's all. That's why I asked about other Architecture Centres and how they are financed, I'm interested to know.

    I know however when a building works and is fit for purpose and when it does not.

    My view on the finaces is more general than specific and it is if, as a country, you really value the arts, culturally, socially, commercially and consider it a fundemantal part of your national identity, then you support it collectively by financial contributions.

    Architecture is the mother of the arts and Scotland, whether you agree with the standard of architecture coming out of this country at the moment is high or not, has produced great architects. Spence, Matthews, Adam, Mackintosh, Thomson, Hamilton, Playfair, Lorimer, Jack Coia, GKC, the list is endless, to not support it now, to my mind, betrays their legacy. Particularly as we have an Architecture Policy, set out in government.

    By the way, everyone in my office had their hand up, so too did all the architects offices and those involved in the creative industries in Scotland and a significant number of the population.

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