You’ll remember that last year people were angry about the sudden arrival of black boardings blocking out views across the city as concerts were held in Princes Street Gardens (“Artwash, Over-Tourism and Edinburgh”). They seemed like the perfect example of a city where people are literally shut out and public spaces are taken over for commercial events.
The response was much gnashing of teeth and council action – and inevitably – a consultation (!) The council wrote: “West Princes Street Gardens is one of the most cherished public green spaces in Scotland, loved by locals and visitors alike. However, over the past few decades due to increasing budget pressures the money available to invest in the facilities has decreased and as a result the Garden’s infrastructure has suffered.”
“West Princes Street Gardens is one of the most beautiful and celebrated city-centre green spaces, offering a backdrop unparalleled anywhere in the world. The careful design of new infrastructure, set within a new holistic vision for the garden, will not only enhance the aspects of the Gardens that people have come to love but offer improvements which will enhance the experience of everyone who wishes to use them.”
And of course people responded saying, amongst other things, that they could tolerate a handful of commercial events (see graphic right, click to enlarge) “five or less major activities” said 68% of people.
Just to prove how meaningless these consultation processes are the Scotsman announces: “A new series of all-ticket pop and rock concerts are to be staged in Princes Street Gardens in the summer – despite concerns over the growing commercialism of the famous Edinburgh park.
The Edinburgh Summer Fiesta will be staged at the Ross Bandstand each July under plans by Glasgow-based promoters who have struck a deal with city council chiefs to use the arena.” See the full story here.
So what are these concerts, who are these artists? Is this some high-level cultural event that might make it worth it for the city?
“Tribute acts to Elvis Presley, Queen, The Jam and Status Quo are among the acts lined up for the initial series of shows, which will run for seven and a half hours each day.”
Tickets are £27 each. To make matters worse there’s some scam about giving a quid to Mare Curie to try and buy people off.
The “Summer Sessions” programme has been expanded now to nine shows this year, with Lewis Capaldi, Florence & The Machine, Madness and Primal Scream lined up. That’s double what people said they’d tolerate in their consultation.
This is just another crass commercialisation of public space, another low-quality incursion in a festival of mediocrity, another take-over of common land.
I suppose the difference is that this years there’s an organisation in place to protest this.