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People and Places - Make Leith Better

Published: 11 Apr 2017

Leith Creative, photo:Kat Gollock

Leith Creative has been awarded core project funding from the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland to run a series of creative interventions and round-table discussions with the people of Leith, asking them what their future vision of the area would be.

Leith Creative, Leith’s dynamic network of creative hubs and practitioners, is to work with citizens and communities in Leith to explore how to enhance the area through creative thinking in the “People and Places – Make Leith Better” project, announced today.

Working in equal partnership with the community and others with a stake in the wellbeing of the vibrant and diverse port of Leith, Leith Creative will draw on its talented and committed network to use design and creative thinking as a way to exchange knowledge, solve problems and jointly arrive at a future vision for Leith.

This innovative programme that combines committed citizen engagement and community knowledge with skills and thinking in culture, creativity, planning, funding and the built environment, is supported by the Scottish Government’s Design Charrettes Fund and Open Project Funding from Creative Scotland, with investment from the CEC’s Cultural Services.

The project will take place between April and September 2017 across a series of community clusters in the Leith area, comprising:

  • A community wide events programme, engaging individual residents and groups through talks, walks, engagement events and discussions.
  • A series of online and social media engagement strands.
  • Research and development meetings.
  • Round-table workshops focusing of citizen knowledge to empower local people to fully participate in the design process.

Duncan Bremner of Citizen Curator and Morvern Cunningham of LeithLate who lead the Leith Creative network said today: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council have recognised the potential for the creative-led approach that we believe will enable Leith’s communities to achieve their own goals, through an exciting participatory focus that can lead to positive physical change in the area. We look forward to working alongside the people of Leith in order to collectively develop a creative vision for the future of our community and the place in which we live and work.”

Clive Gillman, Director of Creative Industries at Creative Scotland said: "The Leith Creative project is a great example of the ways in which communities are thinking about and planning their futures with the help of their artists and designers. We know that participation in cultural activity is fundamental to the well-being of individuals and communities, and projects like this can help us to be brave and positive about our future. Employing real collaboration and creative drive, this project recognises the important role of arts and creativity in achieving economic, social and cultural development."

SNP MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Ben Macpherson said: “I welcome “People and Places – Make Leith Better” and its innovative approach to planning and place-making. There is real potential in this collaboration between creative thinkers, the community and city planners in developing successful, sustainable , well-designed places and spaces that can enhance the lives and economic prospects of their residents”

Councillor Richard Lewis, Convenor of the City of Edinburgh Council’s Culture and Sport Committee, said: “The City of Edinburgh Council is delighted to be supporting this initiative, building on our initial investment in the Leith Creative Project in 2015, which produced such positive and useful findings on the area’s cultural resources and creative industries. ‘People and Places – Make Leith Better’ will give local citizens the opportunity, through engagement with creative communities, to have their say on how they want Leith to be in the future.”

As part of the “People and Places – Make Leith Better” project, Leith Creative will be working with the following partners to engage with local Leith communities over a variety of events and activities taking place throughout April and August 2017, culminating in a 2-day charrette event at the Leith Community Education Centre at the Kirkgate during the Festival:

  • Here + Now are a team of landscape architects, designers and photographers, offering co-design tools and solutions for landscape architecture. Our aim is to put people at the heart of place & design, reconnecting communities with a sense of belonging. http://www.thehereandnow.org.uk/
  • Lateral North are a research & design collective working with community groups, creative professionals and institutions at a local, national and international level, looking to redefine who we are. http://lateralnorth.com/
  • Biomorphis is an architecture & design practice dedicated to a sensitive approach to architecture based on affordable systems, sustainability and art. http://www.biomorphis.com/


Notes to Editors

Leith Creative began in 2015 as a cultural mapping research project into the creative communities of Leith. Leith Creative has been co-developed and co-delivered by Citizen Curator and LeithLate, two cultural organisations working in and around the local Leith area. The initial Leith Creative research findings served as a benchmark and foundation of understanding of the creative activity taking place in the Leith area. A report was produced making a number of recommendations including the need for affordable studio provision for the creative industries, and for a mid-sized multi-purpose venue in the area. The full report, map and infographic can be found here: http://www.leithcreative.org/

Citizen Curator is a cultural organisation working with history, identity and creativity in Leith and North Edinburgh, running exhibitions and events that work with residents and the location in relevant, engaging and accessible ways. Citizen Curator will be running ‘Queens for a Day – Pageants and Parades in Leith’ during the Leith Festival in June, which aims to document and celebrate the history and origins of Gala Day along with the Kings and Queens involved in this community-wide celebration.

LeithLate is an arts organisation responsible for a number of public art initiatives in the Leith area, including The Shutter Project and The Mural Project, alongside the annual multi-arts LeithLate festival. The upcoming LeithLate17 festival will take place over a variety of Leith venues from 15-18 June, comprising art installations, live music, theatrical performances, film screenings and open studios. Full programme announced in May.

Awards: The Leith Creative “People and Places – Make Leith Better” project was awarded £19,400 from the Scottish Government’s Design Charrettes Fund, £19,400 match funding from Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund, with an additional £5,000 investment from the City of Edinburgh Council’s Cultural Services.

First event: Leith Creative will hold its first engagement event with the people of Leith as part of the ‘Leith Market for Locals’ at Dock Place on Saturday 29 April 10:00-17:00.

Definitions: Charrettes bring together the public, stakeholders and designers over a number of days to draw up proposals to make their towns and villages better places to live.

Contacts: For further information, please contact Morvern and Duncan via info@leithcreative.org

Creative Scotland
Sophie Bambrough, Media Relations & PR Officer
T: +44 (0) 131 523 0015
M: 07747 606146
E: sophie.bambrough@creativescotland.com