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RIAS tout grand plan for Festival of Architecture 2016

December 2 2014

RIAS tout grand plan for Festival of Architecture 2016
The RIAS has begun a fundraising drive to help deliver a series of events, commissions and exhibitions to be held during its 2016 Festival of Architecture by tapping every architecture practice in Scotland for £1,000 to help deliver the initiative.

The blanket donation is being asked of every firm, large or small, in order to guarantee ‘equal credit’ for support in the form of a namecheck in RIAS 2016 publications and invitations to exclusive launches and member only events.

Speaking to Urban Realm RIAS secretary Neil Baxter said: “We’re approaching a broad range of potential contributors and some months ago the RIAS council looked at what contributions could come from practices and proposed that because we don’t want to treat practices unequally, we’d ask them for a straight £1k which they can pay or not pay as they wish. It’s a request for a contribution.”

Commenting on the request Alan Dunlop said: “I did receive an ‘invitation’ but no I won't be contributing £1000.00 as requested. As a Fellow I pay significant fees already to the RIAS for which I receive a quarterly magazine and email newsletter. Although I have nothing against a Festival nor RIAS the real and substantive issues facing many architects in Scotland is the deeply flawed public procurement system, low fees and long hours. I'm not aware of the RIAS doing much about those challenges.”

David Jamieson of Zone Architects added: “I am concerned at the implication in the letter that this will be a festival of architecture that involves only practices that have paid £1000 towards it, rather than all the members of the RIAS. How critical is the festival likely to be when one of the main obstacles to decent architecture in Scotland is the government itself.”

A year long programme of activities is being developed by the architect’s body to mark its centenary, overseen by former city design advisor for Glasgow, Gerry Grams, who was recently appointed as festival director.

The RIAS is due to publish its strategy for the event before the end of the year and will apply for additional government and commercial funding through 2015.


Bill S
#1 Posted by Bill S on 2 Dec 2014 at 12:30 PM
A quick browse on the RIAS website suggests that they list over 600 Practice's registered with them, with potentially more to be added. So, assuming everyone paid (which from the above comments I doubt they will), then around £600,000 will be generated for a (single?) "namecheck in RIAS 2016 publications and invitations to exclusive launches and member only events".

Erm, excuse me for being a bit naïve, but that does not really help the profession in being held in high regard with the public. Apart from name-checks, is there any further break-down of what the raised funds could be used for? Furthermore, a blanket sum is all very well, but I wonder how many of the 600 or so Practices are considered Solo Practitioners, or even Small Practices? I would hazard a guess that a majority would be. If so, then £1000 is a fairly large sum for a mention and some canapés.

“Hi there, we heard you were looking to employ an Architect? Well you have come to the right place. We have an exclusive list of companies who are very good as they paid us £1000 to attend a special, private event, that you cannot come too as you are not as good as them.”
#2 Posted by Robin on 2 Dec 2014 at 12:58 PM
So, the RIAS has only requested the £1,000 contribution. It's not like we're being forced to pay it. As a sole practitioner, I won't be paying but I'm not going to throw my toys out the pram just because I was asked.
You'd have exactly the same wingers on here (the ones who usually contribute to these pages) complaining they were not asked if this just went to the big practices.
Just a suggestion, but why not try and focus on what a positive contribution an architectural festival could be to our profession .
#3 Posted by CADMonkey on 2 Dec 2014 at 14:07 PM
Not sure I agree with this Festival Tax.
Should RIAS not be seeking commercial funding first, government funding second, and then ask members for any shortfall? (Perhaps the government don't fund party hats any more.) I also think the "strategy for the event" should be published prior to asking people to pay for it.
CAD Monkey
#4 Posted by CAD Monkey on 2 Dec 2014 at 14:09 PM
Oh!.....I see from the link...
"First Minister Alex Salmond has officially designated 2016 as the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design - an effort to grow participation in and understanding of the built environment."
That explains it.
Seems it's a Salmond initiative.
#5 Posted by Robert on 2 Dec 2014 at 22:09 PM
£1,000 is a lot of money for me, a sole practitioner, but some big practices probably spend this on teabags.

One way of not treating practices unequally would be to suggest a donation based on the number of chartered architects or staff. If £1,000 is 'easily affordable' to people like me, as Mr Baxter has previously suggested, then it follows that £50,000 should be a drop in the ocean for a big practice. I suspect not.
Lee Ivett
#6 Posted by Lee Ivett on 3 Dec 2014 at 12:18 PM
This is properly poor, if the Scottish Government really valued the role of architecture and architects in building a better society it would pay for this and pay for it well. It is a really sad state of affairs when we need a whip round of the profession to pay for an event that should be giving a boost to the industry and also raising the esteem of the industry in the eyes of the public. I have just been a part of a really inspiring, progressive, experimental Biennial in Slovenia that combined creative talent across a range of social, artistic, design and architectural disciplines to create new work that engages with current and future needs of society Projects were well resourced, supported and co-produced with social agency and industry
#7 Posted by Stephen on 3 Dec 2014 at 20:08 PM
Scot. Gov. had pledged £570,000 as far as I was aware (see link below - though this might have changed). This seems to be a 'top-up'. Might help if it was better explained what it is going to be spent on or at least what the ambition is. Seems crass to ask a sole practitioner to pay the same as the big commercial firms.

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