December 12, 2007
Community arts drive Royston Road to top award
Since a successful campaign to save the local church spire from demolition, the community in Glasgow’s Royston Road has become renowned for its pioneering use of the arts to galvanise the energy of local people
The Royston Road Project (RRP) is an excellent example of using arts and culture to engage the local community in the planning and regeneration of public spaces. The organisation was initiated in 1997 with an initial focus to save the Townhead Spire at the south-western end of Royston Road. However, since then it has expanded its work, attracted £1.5 million of funding and involved residents in a wide range of projects resulting in the creation of new public spaces in the north of Glasgow. The organisation is committed to a ‘bottom up’ ethos of community development and puts the community at the heart of decision making. RRP’s innovative approach to encouraging participative community planning has brought a degree of pride back into the area and clearly improved the quality of life for residents stretching across several previously disjointed communities.
An example of RRP’s work is the Parks Project
The two parks act as bookends to an area of the North East of Glasgow that although not very large, is fragmented for a number of historic reasons. Both at landmark sites,they help us consider everything in between them as one place and to start the process of thinking about the communities along the road as one, working together. The Royston Road Project with the other agencies active in the area seek to ‘join the dots’ along the road, break down old boundaries, cross the invisible thresholds and make new connections.
The development of the two parks has been a consultative one, bringing local people together to discuss the problems and successes of their area. The process has brought architects to work collaboratively with artists as part of the design team. They have come in to the area to solve the issues that the groups of people have highlighted. This has been a tooing and froing process, of very great value in the decision making towards the design of these two new facilities for the area.
In addition the Royston Road Project has funded a series of artist residencies. The selected artists have worked with local people and with the organisations who have hosted, them to make work through a number of different strategies. All have focussed on ‘public space’ in its broadest sense, and all have served to bring greater attention to the development of the Parks.