It’s Desire Lines day!

Feb 3 2015 | By More

Workshop event at Assembly Rooms, 3 Feb

The second round of public events around the Desire Lines project is held today when participants will debate six key topics which have emerged as “desire lines” for Edinburgh’s cultural future.

Two round-table interactive discussions are being held at 2-5pm and 6-9pm which are open to all those who are interested in the future of cultural provision in Edinburgh. Although both are ticketed, registration will remain available through Eventbrite until an hour before the start of each session (see below).


Desire lines are described as: “pathways created by many people walking on the same course, creating a common route without the need for a prescribed direction.”

The Desire Lines project is about getting views on what the cultural and creative future of Edinburgh should – and could – be and using those to inform the Edinburgh Council’s new cultural policy. The first draft of the policy is due to be presented to the Culture and Sport Committee in March 2015, with a final draft in May 2015.

Today’s workshops follow on from the public meeting before Christmas and a consequent online survey, in which several hundred people took part and many ideas were put forward.

According to the organiser’s briefing notes for participants in today’s workshops: “Out of this earlier work, six topics have emerged which we are referring to as ‘desire lines’ for Edinburgh’s cultural future.”

Today’s workshops will include a series of short, intense round-table discussions, in which participants will be put into groups of no more than 20 people. Participants are asked to: “come ready to contribute your ideas”.

Here are the desire lines in full:


Diverse, Quality Events And Activities All Year Round
– How to ensure that a year-round thriving grassroots scene gets enough opportunities to perform, exhibit and share ideas with locals and visitors.
– How to ensure the internationalism and quality of the city’s festivals is felt all year round.

Venues (AND Regulations) That Are Fit For Purpose
– How to support a venue infrastructure and a flexible approach to temporary space that supports creative innovation and ambition (for music, art, theatre, large, small, mid-scale; pop up events, studio space, rehearsal space).
– How to break through red tape and inflexibility to create a joined approach to licencing, sound and space that supports cultural needs and ambition in the city.

Easy Access To Culture
How to improve access, both physical and social (cheaper events, free events, removing barriers, new kinds of work, new places where work happens, new collaborations).
– How to communicate better (marketing portals, street signage, What’s On information for audiences and the sector).

A Thriving Artistic Community
– How to ensure artists at all stages of their careers continue to be able to live, make and present work in the city.
– How to ensure that artists have incentives – both intellectual, cultural and financial, to stay in the city.

Supporting Our Ambitions
– How to facilitate greater collaboration between organisations and individuals.
– How to inspire and empower cultural leadership.

Valuing Culture
How to make the case at political and wider civic level for culture to be seen as priority with cross-cutting social, cultural and economic impacts in the city which brings enormous returns for relatively low investment.
– What new approaches can we develop to support investment in culture (social enterprise, angel investors, corporate endowment fund, crowd-funding, public/private partnerships, planning tax).

Both discussions will be chaired by Joyce MacMillan, who was in the chair for the first Desire Lines pulbic event at Summerhall on December 8.

The aim of these discussions is to tease out practical proposals and priorities which we can present to everyone responsible for delivering culture in the city.


Desire Lines Debates
Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, EH2 2LR
Tuesday 3 February 2015: 2-5 pm and  6-9 pm.
Register attendance for the 2pm event:
Register attendance for the 6pm event:
Desire Lineswebsite:

Desire Lines Facebook page
Desire Lines on Twitter: @DL_Edin
Hashtag: #DesireLinesEdin

The members of the group running Desire Lines are:
Jan-Bert van den Berg (Artlink)
Deborah Keogh (Culture Enterprise Office)
Adam Knight (Edinburgh Playhouse)
Cerin Richardson (Festival City Theatres Trust)
Janine Matheson (Creative Edinburgh)
Jenny Langlands (Dance Base)
Ken Hay (Centre for the Moving Image)
Karl Chapman (Usher Hall)
Duncan Hendry (Festival City Theatres Trust)
Faith Liddell (Festivals Edinburgh)
Nick Barley (Edinburgh International Book Festival)
Frank Little (Edinburgh Museums and Galleries)
Donald Smith (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland)
Fiona Bradley (The Fruitmarket Gallery)



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