We start the year with annual reviews of all the sectors we work in (what we call a centre of gravity or COG for short) and the Arts & Culture CoG kicked things off with gusto. The active membership of this group is limited but we were reminded that the noblest aspiration of our architectural efforts involves everybody in the office. As architects we are all by default members of the artistic community.
That brings with it a huge responsibility, to ensure that the creative opportunity is taken in every project, big or small, to contribute to and exploit its potential. Which brings with it a dilemma. When Arts funding is being cut, a 50% decrease in acquisition funding, a 25% decrease in Historic Scotland capital funding - how can we responsibly argue for creativity as a priority?
When it gets tough economically one thing is for sure, the way we did it before will not be the way we do it in the future. How do change our thinking?
Arts projects can show the way. In fact it could be said to be the duty of the arts, looking at society as a whole to be at the forefront of new ways of thinking about our environment, society and activities. The funding of our Art Schools could in that respect be society's way of saying we need in our educational portfolio an experimental, incubating sector that leads the way, providing inspiration and provocation for the physical, social and business sciences.
What is more difficult is to somehow put a value on the need and extent of this creative contribution.
Last year we carried out some experiments in our thinking, a seminar called the Accidental Cultural Tourist explored these together with the financial numbers and economic benefits of creative architectural programmes.
What it showed is that space, it's enclosure and its relationship to place can work so much harder to support the viability of the activities and that during this period of retrenchment it is not the jettisoning of creativity but its nurturing which is required.