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Damning report lifts lid on Aberdeen’s Capital of Culture failure

July 19 2013

Damning report lifts lid on Aberdeen’s Capital of Culture failure
Aberdeen’s effort s to sell itself on the national stage as a cultural tour de force have backfired after UK City of Culture 2017 judges rationale for overlooking the north east city during the shortlisting process were made public.

The panel, headed by Phil Redmond, chair of National Museums Liverpool and including the likes of VisitScotland chief Mike Cantlay, dismissed Aberdeen’s bid for its lack of a ‘coherent vision’ and ‘limited’ cultural and artistic expertise.

That decision saw the city, for all its oil wealth, fail at the first hurdle in competition with the likes of Dundee, Leicester, Hull and Swansea – all of which were deemed to have a stronger cultural and artistic presence.

Regeneris Consulting, which collated judges feedback for its own report, observed that Aberdeen currently lacks a ‘wow factor’ and suffered from the shallow depth of its cultural offer.- problems exacerbated by an absence of passion or a compelling case.

The report said: “Despite the potentially compelling need and offer of Aberdeen's bid, it does not deliver a compelling case in terms of vision or deliverability.

"The vision and step changes lack coherence and fail to give a clear picture of the difference that UK CoC would make for Aberdeen and the artistic programme lacks depth and sufficient wow factor at this stage, despite the very significant budget potential."

It wasn’t all doom and gloom however with the report stating that the city could be a ‘strong candidate’ in future years.

Deputy Council leader Marie Boulton responded: "I think we have got a cultural organisation that runs through this city, but it has always been underground because it has always been overshadowed by the economic development in this city.

"We want to know where we are going wrong so we can actually get it right."


#1 Posted by Al on 19 Jul 2013 at 18:05 PM
What - guitar wife didn't swing it for Aberdeen!!!
Tod You So
#2 Posted by Tod You So on 22 Jul 2013 at 11:58 AM
#3 Posted by Egbert on 23 Jul 2013 at 09:41 AM
While I absolutely loathe the term 'wow-factor' there is a serious point to be made. When every major project goes to the likes of Halliday Fraser Munro one has to question the commitment to diversity and creativity in the built environment, and by association the city as a cultural entity.
Shap Sheeger
#4 Posted by Shap Sheeger on 23 Jul 2013 at 14:44 PM
As an Aberdonian myself, this is no surprise. The word Culture in the competition really excluded Aberdeen from the outset.

An economy driven introverse industrial city was never going to win.

Well done to Dundee. I'd imagine their proposal is ticking a lot of the boxes and stands a really decent of winning this.
Fitz Hat
#5 Posted by Fitz Hat on 24 Jul 2013 at 09:07 AM
Sad, but not surprising. The areas in which the NE does have world class culture (traditional music, for example), get little or no support from the council. Instead Aberdeen City waste enormous sums on tacky "tartan day" parades etc. I don't think anyone in Aberdeen could argue with the conclusions of this report.
Own Goal
#6 Posted by Own Goal on 25 Jul 2013 at 11:11 AM
Jaco Justice
#7 Posted by Jaco Justice on 7 Aug 2013 at 12:14 PM
Interesting (alarming, actually) that folk here are posting a link to a project that was, and still is, absolutely nothing to do with culture, creativity, inclusiveness and what the remit of UK CoC looks for. As they say, no coherent vision; summed up brilliantly by Sir Ian Wood's (failed) self-serving folly.

There's a compete lack of understanding by the general NE population with what culture represents.. an Xmas panto and a tin box shopping mall? Well done, money talks.
Aberdonian M
#8 Posted by Aberdonian M on 7 Aug 2013 at 13:32 PM
At a business breakfast on 'investing in culture' a few years back, one ACSEF member bemoaned the fact that the City Square project (as it was) had been rejected by popular vote, while a well known newspaper person commented that the Evening Express was a huge supporter of culture as they "sponsor the Aberdeen panto every year"

As soon as acsef or the people who are posting links to the subsequent flawed project can point out exactly what purpose it would have served (even acsef couldn't tell you, and their head guy was in line to 'manage' it.), we can go on to show why it would have made sure Aberdeen didn't even get considered as far as it managed.
#9 Posted by Scott on 8 Aug 2013 at 12:08 PM
Aberdeen desperately needs a plan for the city's future. They should take inspiration from Dundee's 30 year plan and begin developing a vision for the city's future. Though maybe they can learn from their mistakes, stop worrying about votes, and employ some SKILLED master planners to help design this vision i.e. NOT Halliday Fraser and Munroe who seem to lack vision and originality.

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