The recently launched City Centre Lane Strategy and the pilot Lane Activation fund have created opportunities for artists and the creative industries to be recognised as one of three key stakeholders in city centre lanes alongside, owners and occupiers (be it communities or businesses).
While full guidance is available at https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=22918, a minimum of two of the three groups need to come together to apply.
The challenge for any city is to continue to find the resources to deliver the flagship buildings and experiences while trying to find ways to help people think differently about City Centre spaces and about the connections between spaces. This applies to how these could look and what they could be used for.
In that sense it is about encouraging people to think of them and use them as part of the heritage and culture of Glasgow City Centre. Lanes are a great example of this. Glasgow has lanes which are attractions in their own right and give both the people of Glasgow and visitors the sense of something discovered, something reclaimed.
While the City Centre Lane strategy has identified seven target lanes on which the Council will work with to encourage owners and other stakeholders, it is also seen as really important to have a fund that people can apply to so they can focus on their own ideas and priorities.
The scale of the funding available means that the fund is not intended to ‘fix’ lanes it is intended to get people using them by supporting different types of events and projects.
We have lanes that are sited in the heart of the City Centre which could bring daytime audiences to the centre or create quiet spaces.
We have residential lanes that could be real assets for their communities.
The level of funding (maximum award is £5k) means that the fund will not provide all the answers, nor is it really intended to do that. What it will do is make a start and in conjunction with the other parts of the City Centre Lane Strategy the objective is to persuade everyone that lanes are an asset for artists, communities, businesses and the owners.
The ‘return on investment’ for each of these groups will be quite different, but if the Fund and the Strategy are going to succeed they need to make this return obvious.
As always it is the energy and inventiveness of people which will create projects and ideas, bring the various stakeholders together and create movement on the idea of place and take a step to close the gap between the best and the challenging.
Ian Elder, Senior Project Officer. City Centre Regeneration.