Edinburgh Lectures 2010-11 launches 'Talking Cities' theme


By Christine Lavelle

THIS year’s Edinburgh Lectures promises to include a number of well-known speakers, who are set to discuss the theme of ‘Talking Cities’.

Inspired by the recent ‘tipping’ of the world’s population from a predominantly rural to an urban society, the programme kicks off in October and will run until March next year.

Speakers include: Andrew Dixon, chief executive of Creative Scotland, Alberto Magnaghi, professor of territorial planning at the University of Florence, Professor Bruce J. Katz, urban policy expert and adviser to the US Government, and Scottish writer and publisher James Robertson.

The lecture programme will feature thought-provoking sessions about the role of cities in society, potential for the future, their relationship to the rural sphere, how their design can influence their identity and the extent to which they are presented in literature and the arts.

Andrew Dixon, chief executive of Creative Scotland, will give the third Edinburgh Lecture of the series, entitled “Shining the spotlight on Scotland’s creative cities”, at the Filmhouse on 2 December.

He said: “I am delighted that Creative Scotland has been included in this year’s programme.

“The theme of the programme ‘Talking Cities’ is exactly what Creative Scotland is about.

“It’s important that people across the country hear about the fantastic work that places contribute to Scotland as whole.

“Creative Scotland intends to shine a spotlight on Scotland’s rich cultural sector.”

The City of Edinburgh Council‘s lecture will be given on 17 November by urban policy expert Greg Clark, who will speak at the National Galleries of Scotland’s Hawthornden Lecture Theatre.

His central theme will pose the question: “What are British Cities good at?” and “Does it matter?”

Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “For the first time, cities have outstripped rural areas as the home to most of the world’s population.

“The Edinburgh Lectures ‘Talking Cities’ programme promises to be a fascinating and informative exploration of the concept of the city and we’re thrilled to have an outstanding line-up of influential speakers ready to engage and enthrall us.”

Launched in 1995, the Edinburgh Lectures programme is going into its 19th year, and previous speakers have included First Minister Alex Salmond, playwright John Byrne, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, poet and Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney and Alex Kapranos, lead singer of Franz Ferdinand.

Lord Provost George Grubb said: “This lecture series will shed light on how cities can and will influence our world.

“Do cities do more than generate economic income for the region and the nation?

“The 19th Series of the Edinburgh Lectures will explore how cities also have the potential to provide solutions to our cultural, social and environmental challenges.”