Glasgow Canal: Cultural Heritage and Arts Strategy

KMA won the contract for the Glasgow Canal Cultural Heritage and Arts Strategy in early 2019. This commission is for the stretch of the Glasgow branch of the canal from Port Dundas top Firhill, an area of the canal we are very familiar with having done charrette work at each end of the area. This project was funded by a successful bid to the Heritage Fund by the Glasgow Canal Regeneration Partnership. This is a larger project that is being undertaken in the area with the Glasgow Canal Coop, Scottish Canals and Glasgow City Council working collaboratively.

The Glasgow Canal Coop, a cooperative of creative organisations, businesses and institutions in this canal area, has been instrumental in raising the profile of the area and working on continued regeneration of the area as a creative quarter in the north of the city. Working closely with the Canal Coop and its membership was key to the process. We’re really grateful for their participation and guidance along the way.

Our process included a series of ‘walkshops’ along the canal and surrounding neighbourhoods where we joined local people and organisations to hear about their experience of the area and how they would like it to change in the future. These walks gave us insight into current perception of the place and how this might be shifted. In addition to our own place assessment these walks also helped unpack and understand the different character areas, from a post-industrial natural ecology regenerating along the canal and in the Claypits Local Nature Reserve, to heritage character areas with interesting buildings filled with creative activity from Applecross to Spiers Wharf and the action sports-led activity around the Port Dundas basin.

A key date for the projects outreach was at the Canal Festival in July. We spoke to over 400 people who came to take part in mini-boat folding and pin their ideas to our ‘flat model’. We spoke to people who had never visited the area before and people who lived close by. Both groups had their imaginations sparked of what the place could be like by seeing the great range of activity on at the festival.

Engaging in dialogue with the Coop membership through interviews and workshops we developed 7 action themes and a draft vision for the area. This vision is that the area becomes:
A city destination – with regional, national and international visitors
A unique location recognised for the creative response to its place
Rooted in heritage and ecological assets of the area – giving authenticity and quality
Cooperative/collaborative working to deliver projects across all mediums and projects
Accessible to all – particularly to immediate communities but with widening access.

The strategy document will be owned by the Canal Coop and other partners and be used to inform action plans, policies and project development. The document will also be useful for making external funding applications.

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