Friday, 12 February 2010

Art vs Business?

The nature of the parties involved and the interests concerning the debate around the future of the much-loved historic Union Terrace Gardens seems to have led the issue to be seen by some as an "Arts vs Business" scenario. Not necessarily a stance which has been put forward by either camp, but a conclusion easily reached when you consider the Business-led partnership ACSEF and the opposing plans for Peacock Visual Art's new Centre for Contemporary Art and the Artist-led I Heart UTG campaign to save the Gardens. However nothing is ever clean cut or black and white, most Artists are in fact businesses and not all businessmen see sunken gardens as a "chasm."

The balance was struck on Tuesday when Jim Milne, Chairman and Managing Director of the Balmoral Group spoke out against the City Square Project claiming that “As far as I can tell, the people of Aberdeen do not want Union Terrace Gardens desecrated. People don’t necessarily go into the gardens every time they are in the town, but they often look down and admire it. To put a concrete jungle there would be a mistake.” He also felt that the Peacock Plan had been "blown of of the Water" by Sir Ian's last minute "plans", and admitted he "he would consider investing in" the Centre, which so far no pub and club owners, property developers, Football legends, hoteliers or garden centre managers speaking out in support have offered to do with the City Square. More telling, Mr Milne went onto say that “with regard to the city square plan, I personally know many individuals, especially within the business sector, that feel pressurised into supporting the Acsef project by their peers." Mr Milne's full statement can be read here.


lepeep said...

Short and sweet.
Is it getting easier? he he.
I liked Peter Wilsons take on the urban realm blog of the Annie Lennox story and how Tom Smith decided to approach it...

Recognising a p.r. disaster forming in front of his eyes, Weber Shandwick’s Neal Robertson coolly said that he had read Lennox’s comments with interest and that “her response would be logged.” Better still, he added, “it is good that people of a high profile are airing their views. The whole consultation was designed to get people involved.” Which would be fine and dandy had he bothered to brief Tom Smith, chairman of ACSEF, before the latter made his own splenetic response to the press. Speaking of Nelson Mandela’s right-hand angel, Tom just couldn’t help himself: “Given that Ms Lennox appears to have made her comments based on a wholly inaccurate description of the project on MySpace, we are hardly surprised by them. Objectors’ claims that it will be a flat concrete square similar to Red Square are misleading, as is their statement that it will be full of shops and car parking.” This, from the leader of a team whose own public statements and overbearing stance on the matter to date would make even old Muscovite apparatchiks blush, seems just a tad oversensitive. But he’s got a point: Sir Ian’s plans aren’t Red Square - they’re far bigger than that and unfortunately our Annie has put the international spotlight on Tom’s master’s megalomaniac notion.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand how Sir Ian's £50Million can be considered anything other than a bribe to see his vision come to life.

The dictionary describes a bribe as:

"Something, such as money or a favor, offered or given to a person in a position of trust to influence that person's views or conduct."

And a gift as:

"Something bestowed freely."

Sir Ian's £50Million certainly isn't being given freely, it is tied to specific aims of his own and as you report in the article it will be removed if these aims are not agreed with.

Additionally what kind of monitory gift requires you to double the amount first and then continue paying for the result in the future? Not one I want that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

I mean monetary.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for Weber Shandwick, they are extremely prestigious in both P.R. and P.A., but I feel that Sir Ian Wood is totally ignoring their suggestions and directions, because he feels that he knows best. Bit arrogant?

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous/weber shandwick comment. If there was some evidence to suggest that Weber Shandwick are attempting to direct Sir Ian towards some compromise all well and good, but the only evidence we have is the consultation itself, which is sadly lacking in integrity and disclosure. It certainly does nothing to enhance the professional reputation of WS. Quite the reverse - if I were a WS client I would seriously consider whether they are upholding best practise. Given the greenwash, the lack of authorship in their social meida, the blatant ignorance and misleading comments offered by stand staff at CSP roadshows, the appalling behaviour of the client in question (Acsef) and other factors, I would come quickly to the conclusion that WS have compromised themselves to the extent that their services would no longer be necessary.