Glasgow 1999 has reacted with anger and dismay to claims last weekend that its year ofarchitecture and design has been a resounding flop with the public,and that its flagship Lighthouse project has been 'bailed out'with £200,000 ofextra council money.It said attendance figures have actually already easily beaten the projected 668,000 target set and are on course to top 900,000,while the extra Lighthouse money was always a set-aside figureif the building's retail units didn't take off.
The claims,made in a longScotland on Sunday article,were that the Lighthouse was asking taxpayers to foot the bill to keep it 'afloat'after it failed to let retail units at the scheme,a £12 million reworking ofa Charles Rennie Mackintosh building ( AJ 12.8.99).The money was part ofa long-standing agreement with the council to offset any rent void in the project's first year ofoperation.
The paper also claimed that the 'most recent figures'ofattendances at the festival's 14 core
exhibitions were a 'poor'673,000 and added criticism levelled at the year's 'inaccessible'programme from Neil Baxter - who was originally shortlisted for 1999 director Deyan Sudjic's job.In fact,as ofthis week that figure was up to 753,000 and the organisers maintain that the Lighthouse has 'gone down a bomb',with over 150,000 visitors in four months making it a more popular attraction than any other architecture and design centre, according to its director Stuart MacDonald.The visitor attendance figure is also more than London's Design Museum - now more than a decade old - attracts in a year.
Glasgow 1999 suggested that the newspaper was perhaps out to 'get'the festival.But Sudjic is set to hit back with a letter he has drafted attacking the paper's 'onslaught'- which he branded as having the 'surreal quality ofSurealist propoganda' about it.'The year promised to be the largest and most ambitious celebration ofarchitecture and design ever attempted'he said.'And that is exactly what it has been'.