Scoville Units Unite

18 Nov

Dundee City of Culture Bid

It’s been surprising how little and much has been said about Dundee’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2017. How little in the long-run up. And then so much in the last week. Some good, some bad. Some indifferent.

The public face of the bid started with the launch of We Dundee with locals asked to contribute reasons Dundee should win. There was the first round of bidding and 6 six cities including Aberdeen were cut.

The Dundee team pulled together a bid and it was submitted last week with the result expected Wednesday.

“One Day in Dundee” – UK City of Culture 2017 Bid Video from We Dundee on Vimeo.

The full document of the bid has also been made available, although not widely publicised.

The video has some criticism (rightly so), but looking at it it’s well produced with a number of well kent faces. This is all good for people in Dundee seeing Pete Tosh (not that one), Brian Cox (that one, not that one), Howie, but they would only know Brian Cox, so pretty insular. Showing off the sports is grand, but I would assume it was actually filmed in one day and that’s why ice hockey was shown rather than United. Surely showing GMS and Gauld would have counted for more culture than most ;).

Showing features of the city like Discovery, city centre, DCA and skatepark is great for variety and all and I can’t think of many cultural venues to chuck on which are obvious landmarks, oh wait, the McManus! Fair enough I think a couple of bits may be inside there but for fuck sake. If only the regeneration of a cultural landmark for three years which was re-opened to great success had some relevance to what the bid is trying to do. It’s details like that which are infuriating.

And that segues to the real downer of the video – the dearth of computing game content and music. Musicwise there is a Violin Shop and Grouchos. Great – showing wee independent retailers, sure Rainbow could have fitted in too though. Music wise you have the Mains of Fintry Pipe Band – great, doubt Swansea can boast a local Pipe Band drawn from people who mainly live in one of the really deprived communities. For contemporary bands there’s a few stills of what I suspect is a covers band playing in a pub (I may be wrong).

This is around the time the awesome Daisy was putting on OxJam house gigs. Similar to the way we saw contrast from old jute works to modern textiles at Duncan of Jordanstone couldn’t we have had, even with timeline manipulation, a house gig => pub gig => Caird Hall gig, showing the breadth of music in the city?

But that’s not the real downer of the video. The soundtrack is Chvrches. Who are brilliant. Don’t get me wrong. But they are from Glasgow. Not Dundee. I don’t even think they’ve played in Dundee. Is there really no Dundee band who could have provided a soundtrack to the video. Doesn’t show much confidence in the city’s bands. Snow Patrol formed here and iDLEWiLD’s Roddy Woomble is from just up the road, surely if we were looking outside the city they should have been higher up the list and been more of a big-name draw to boot.

The Bid Document

I’ve scanned through the 132 page document so only have a superficial list of what is proposed so far, and some looks great. There are obvious gaps/concerns though. Firstly I would hope a chunk of this goes ahead whether the bid is successful or not. If nothing else then the proposed local consultations to find out what Dundonians want from the official cultural bodies in the city will be invaluable. Somehow I suspect not many will have a floating Opera stage in the Ferry high on their list.

Firstly there’s a balance to be found between local and external to the city. Dundee has extremely tight boundaries so it’s not hard to reach out to other areas and should be encouraged but it’s important that we only do so when Dundee can’t do it ourselves for such important events. A great example is in the bid team – having external culture consultants on it instead of the relevant local Council Convener.

Some of it looks exciting (COMICCON!!), but how much is confirmed, speculation and only dependent on a successful bid is unknown. It’s noted that some info is removed from this document. There are a number of places with grey bars on top of text but the text can still be copied out. Fail. I’m not sure if that’s all the parts covered by that statement or not.

Of course The View and Ricky Ross are name-checked but not Laeto or other bands who have knocked their pan in for 10 years. Somehow I doubt we’re going to see posters of Dundee Culture City presents: followed by Uniforms, Bonehouse or Kaddish. I think the most important thing for us to do is to engage in the consultation then take the great ideas not used by the city fathers and create a fringe for them. Covering all the cultural areas ignored. Supporting the local, grass roots scenes. When bands are invited and local ones ignored put on a mini-fringe fest. When huge designers are promoted all over the Tully throw together a local craft fair. When official events charge £20 a ticket, ask for donations.

The football

There is also one ridiculous suggestion in the document which simply must be pointed out. The football festival has Dundee playing AC Milan. This is great. They have a partnership with them and also most of their fans parents weren’t born when the Italian giants smashed them. Great.

The proposed Dundee United tie? Against AS Roma? In 1984 they met in the European Cup. At Tannadice, United turned them over 2-0. In the return leg in Roma won 3-0 after bribing the referee. And those in charge of the bid think United should celebrate with a match against these cheating fucks? Considering United’s glorious run of 1987 and good terms with Barcelona (after pumping them 4 times out of 4) and Gothemberg either of these would have seen every Arab in the city and beyond queuing for tickets.

Perhaps a better event would be just promoting the Forfarshire Cup though, although Dundee might increase their lead over United in trophy wins for it, as they will have more recent experience with playing other diddy teams.

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