Glasgow second only to London for culture in UK
Published by Anne Marie Hughes on Sat 09 Jun 12 @ 22:10
Glasgow has been hailed as the biggest cultural "powerhouse" in the UK after London - with its creative landscape of art, music, museums, theatre and television shaping a new renaissance for the city.
A new report has found that Glasgow's creative health has gone from strength to strength since it was named the European Capital of Culture in 1990, an event designed to breathe inspiration into the city following years of industrial decline.
The flourishing cultural sector now employs more than 5000 people, with another 2000 self-employed musicians, actors, dancers, artists and authors based in the city in confirmation of its reputation, and self-image, as the home of the creative industry in Scotland.
The city's busy calendar of festivals and music events, such as the hugely popular Celtic Connections, the MOBO awards and the World Pipe Band Championship, are helping to draw record number of visitors to Glasgow, the report found.
The sheer scale of the city's collection of theatres, concert halls and auditoriums was noted by the report's author, with 25 venues - from the SECC to the Pavilion Theatre and The Arches - providing more than 32,000 seats to culture vultures at any one time.
The report, called the Glasgow Cultural Statistic Digest, written by John Myerscough, a leading cultural policy analyst, finds that the cultural sector of the city's workforce is a "major asset for the city and for Scotland".
Glasgow now has the reputation as the second-most important UK base for the visual arts, again after London, with the Glasgow School of Art playing a central role in building this image, the report said. Since 2005, 30% of Turner Prize nominees, Douglas Gordon and Simon Starling among them, studied at the famous school, which in its own right is a major tourist attraction.
Television production has also become a major contributor to the creative and cultural industries. Companies such as Shed Media and Raise The Roof are helping to generate more than 960 hours of small-screen viewing every year.
The most significant employer is in the realm of performance, with drama, music and dance com-panies, theatres and halls together employing 1485 people. Glasgow's year of culture in 1990 is conventionally seen as the most visible symbol of the city's reinvention as a centre of modern culture rather than post-industrial decline. Since 1993, the number of cul-tural jobs is up 43% with 82% more performances being staged in the city. Attendance by Glas-gow citizens, of all social groups, is above the Scottish average.
Mr Myerscough said: "The dynamism of Glasgow's cultural sector and its power to innovate was evident well before 1990. They have remained a Glasgow hallmark subsequently. The cul-tural sector has increased greatly in size since 1990, with 90 new bodies outnumbering the 44 clos-ures. There are more drama pro-ducers, more dance professionals, more festivals, more museums and extra heritage sites to visit."
He claimed that the power of the cultural sector can be seen in the "energy and stimulus given to daily life in the city, the pride and self-confidence generated in Glasgow and Scotland, the points of aspiration provided for young people, and the spiritual ease which can be delivered for all through engagement with the arts".
Some of the figures in the report show decline, however. Audiences at producing theatres have fallen from 155,000 to 137,000 in the 10 years to 2009, with the Citizens Theatre almost halving to 64,000 in that period. Scottish Opera performances over the same time have dropped from 52 a year to 22 mainscale productions.
Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said the report shows Glasgow is "a creative powerhouse which boosts the city's standing both at home and abroad". He added: "Since long before 1990, the city prioritised our heritage, art and culture as a way of transforming our fortunes. "This landmark report proves that our investment has worked. We are a city that innovates in performance and takes pride in its cultural legacy. We celebrate the past, always with an eye to investing in the future."
Seona Reid, director of the Glasgow School of Art, said: "The findings are not a surprise. Glasgow has always, from its industrial heyday to the inter-nationally recognised and respected creative powerhouse it is today, provided our students and graduates with an un-rivalled environment in which to experiment and innovate, to develop their creative practice and build international networks."