Corrections & Clarifications

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It is Variant policy to correct significant errors as soon as possible.

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Corrections & Clarifications, issue 32, Summer 2008

The editors have considered a number of complaints from Culture & Sport Glasgow (CSG) concerning the article The New Bohemia by Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt.

One of CSG’s main allegations is "that the author has referenced newspapers as reliable and accurate sources of facts, which is a major flaw in a so-called piece of academic writing. Out of 36 note references 12 are directly taken from newspapers." (23 June 2008) Newspapers are an invaluable resource for the academic researcher as they are for journalists. It is of course the case that newspapers are not always reliable sources. However, the same should be said of other types of data such as, for example, official statements from governmental institutions, as is made clear below. However, the press material used in this article was in the context of a range of other sources and was not the sole basis for the article. Furthermore, it is our understanding that every care was taken to check where possible with additional sources and to examine (via newspaper’s databases) whether corrections had been issued or letters published from CSG or other sources querying the veracity of the accounts. If CSG has approached any of these sources for retractions, this was not obvious from the research undertaken. The question which is important here, though, is not the use of press sources which form a legitimate part of academic data gathering, and indeed a substantial area of academic scholarship, but the issue of the accuracy of the claims and the investigative thrust of the article. As is made clear in Variant's full response to Culture & Sport Glasgow [available here as a PDF], it is our belief that the publishing of the article 'The New Bohemia' by Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt, Variant issue 32, Summer 2008, is in the public interest.

The article states that there were "controversial proposals to allow private companies to develop businesses in two of its parks".

The article is clear that it is critiquing a nexus of interests. However, the use of the possessive form – its – in the above sentence in relation to the two parks may, strictly speaking in this particular instance, be misapplied. The two parks mentioned are, at the point of writing, within Land and Environmental Services.

However: "The parks and open spaces service links closely with a number of other Glasgow City Council services and external agencies, in terms of both policy and service delivery." Land and Environmental Services declare this a "complex series of relationships", and the restructuring of senior management, just prior to the Strategic Review of Parks and Open Spaces, was "undertaken in order to move Land Services forward as an organisation that is focused on customers and corporate working." (Glasgow Parks and Open Spaces, Strategic Best Value Review and Implementation Plan)

Culture & Sport Glasgow has not contested that it is involved in parks development and is engaged in formal partnerships to do with parks management. Culture & Sport Glasgow manage the Burrell Collection, whose facilities are a major plank in the Go Ape business model for Pollok Park. See:

To more fully respond, the editors and the author would like to hear from anyone who has information on the commercial development/exploitation of parks, and, if Culture & Sport Glasgow should be involved, the precise nature and level of their involvement.

The article states that "somewhat predictably, it has just been announced that the feted Kelvingrove Museum will be introducing admission charges".

We would like to clarify that entrance fees to national museums across the UK were officially scrapped on 1st December 2001. It is in this context and the wider concerns of commercial exploitation of common good facilities expressed in the article that Kelvingrove, a public museum, will for the first time since then be charging admission for the temporary Doctor Who Exhibition to be housed within the museum. At Earls Court, tickets for the Doctor Who Exhibition are: £9, child £7, under 3s free, family (2 adults + 2 children) £28.

The BBC makes it quite clear that it wishes to commercially exploit its brands. See, for instance: 'Doctor Who helps drive to record profits in BBC Worldwide's global expansion', The Guardian, Wednesday July 9, 2008.

To more fully understand the position of CSG, we believe it clearer to quote their website directly:
"Culture and Sport Glasgow has established a trading subsidiary called Culture and Sport Glasgow Trading CIC to undertake the management and development of commercial activities which Culture and Sport Glasgow cannot undertake as a charity. The CIC is responsible for delivering income through commercial activities such as retailing, catering and venue hire.
The key areas of current commercial activity are:
• Retail in Museums
• Daytime Catering in Culture and Sport Glasgow Venues
• Venue Hire" [accessed 16/7/08]

To more fully respond, the editors and the author would like to hear from anyone who has information on: retail in museums, associated events catering, venue hire, or any other forms of commercial exploitation of museums or other common good assets.

The diagram of the board members of Culture & Sport Glasgow includes Councillor Archie Graham. Contrary to the information available and provided at the time, we have now learned that Councillor Graham resigned his position sometime in March/April 2008 and was replaced by Bailie Allan Stewart.

We would like to make clear that the initial information for this came from the Culture & Sport Glasgow website. At the time this research was conducted (in the first quarter of 2008) Archie Graham was still cited as a member of the board. Indeed, a response to a Freedom of Information request, dated 15 April 2008, names Graham as a Director.

We would like to make the following corrections, that:
• Bridget McConnell is not Executive Director of Culture and Sport Glasgow but Chief Executive of Culture and Sport Glasgow.
• Dr Vartan Gregorian is not seconded to Culture and Sport Glasgow but Special Advisor to the Board of Culture and Sport Glasgow.
• Independent Directors and Elected Members of Culture and Sport Glasgow are all members of the Board.
• as Director of Leisure Services for Glasgow City Council, Bridget McConnell's role had included overseeing sports facilities and the staging of a number of sporting events before the redesignation of post to Executive Director (Culture and Sport); this new, expanded appellation explicitly recognised the 'sports' element and, we are led to understand, the efforts to secure the Common Wealth Games.

We would like to apologise to Councillor Aileen Colleran, who is not, as incorrectly stated, a member of the Culture and Sport Glasgow (Trading) CIC board.