Culture and Regeneration; An ideal match?

A SURF Debate

Thursday 9th May, 2019, V&A Dundee



From Bilboa to Dundee, and across the communities, towns and cities of Scotland, heritage, culture and creativity approaches to regeneration, are moving to centre stage.

How can places and people use their distinctive assets, creative processes and shared culture to drive authentic community, social and economic regeneration?

Or is that increasingly fashionable focus, really just a distraction from the less glamorous regeneration challenges of upgrading infrastructure, attracting quality employment and tackling poverty

Stewart Murdoch and Oli Mould with SURF Chair Kate Wimpress and Cllr Alexander, Leader of Dundee CC

and inequalities?

These were the central questions asked at this year’s SURF debate.

In the highly appropriate setting of the Dundee V&A, Human Geography academic Oli Mould,  set out the main arguments of his recent book, ‘Against Creativity’.

Stewart Murdoch, Director of Leisure and Culture Dundee, responded by drawing on what the city has creatively achieved in recent years.

After additional comments from a panel of diverse expertise, it opened up into the debate with an audience of experienced regeneration practitioners, community activists, policy makers and academics, from across SURF’s extensive membership and wider contacts.


An audio recording of the SURF Debate.

Summary Report

A short summary report of the main points from the speakers and subsequent discussion session.

Debate Summary Report

Speaker Slides and Presentation Notes

Oli Mould Slides

Oli’s Notes

Stewart Murdoch Slides

Stewart’s Notes

Other Information

Debate Programme

Attendee List

Previous Years

‘Governance and Power’

A SURF Debate

Thursday 24th May, 2018, Grand Central Hotel, Gordon Street, Glasgow


This debate was part of a progressive programme of work by SURF to promote and inform the current national Review of Local Governance.

Background and Purpose

The Scottish Government and COSLA supported review seems to offer a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to more successfully link community challenges and assets, to larger scale processes and resources. The importance of improving those connections is a longstanding priority for SURF. In the current and anticipated climate of rising demands and reducing resources, it has become more than a priority. It is essential for any serious and sustainable regeneration strategy.

Which decisions on what resources, for what purposes, are best made at what level, by who, based on what information and what mandate; are some of the essential interlocked questions that need to be addressed.

To help us consider the varied possibilities and challenges in this cross sector and multi-level debate, we will hear first from Robin McAlpine, as Director of the Common Weal, and then from Cllr. Alison Evison, President of COSLA who will draw on their respective considerable experience and differing perspectives. The rest of the event will be a platform for constructive and participative open debate.

SURF will subsequently produce and circulate a summary report of the main points of debate. They will then be further explored in SURF’s ongoing engagement in the formal Review process, and in its broader interactions with national and local policy makers. The main points of debate will also inform the content of SURF’s 23.8.18 Annual Conference in Edinburgh, which will be on the topic of ‘Community Led Regeneration; Getting Real’.


Read a full transcript of the event by clicking on the link below

SURF Governance and Power Debate Transcript

Other Information

Speaker Bio Paper

Debate Programme

Attendee List

A SURF Debate

Date and Venue

  • Tuesday 23rd May
  • Glasgow Women’s Library, Bridgeton

Does Regeneration Work?

If so, how and for who? If not, why and what can be done?

From Urban Aid to the Community Aspirations fund; via SIPs and the Fairer Scotland Fund, to the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, SPRUCE and Urban Regeneration Companies; for a quarter of a century, SURF has been doing all it can to support and promote better regeneration policy and practice.

So, what has changed in that time? What’s been gained and what’s been lost? Have our collective efforts and investments been enough to overcome the forces of degeneration? What does our collective experience so far tell us about how we should address future challenges and opportunities?

To consider these questions, and other perspectives, SURF held a special regeneration debate as part of their 25th Anniversary year activities.

Ian Manson, Chief Executive of the Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company, and Prof. Douglas Robertson, academic and author of ‘Groundhog Day? Explaining 50 years of Failed Renewal’ started the debate by drawing on their considerable experience and their differing perspectives. Additional views and insights came from Suzanne Lawns of regeneration supporting housing provider, Urban Union and Gehan MacLeod of respected community enterprise GalGael.


Read a full transcript of the event by clicking on the link below

SURF Debate Transcript – Does Regeneration Work 2017

Other Information

Attendance List


Speaker Biographies

Creative Scotland
Glasgow City Council
Historic Environment Scotland
Museums Galleries Scotland
Scottish Enterprise
Scottish Government
Scottish Had
Skills Development Scotland
Wheatley Group