What a Difference a Year Makes! Reflections from Festival of Place 2020

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A&DS Chief Executive Jim MacDonald attended the virtual Festival of Place, sharing the platform with the design organisations from Wales, England and Northern Ireland to discuss the value of design. In this short blog he reflects on the common questions facing the organisations. 

What a difference a year makes. The inaugural Festival of Place in 2019 brought designers and developers together in London’s Docklands for two days of discussion, debate and encounters with interesting people. Roll forward to 2020 and we were doing it all by Zoom instead.

The mission of the Festival is to break down silos and bring people together to tackle the major issues facing urban development, so it was brilliant that the organisers found a way to keep the conversation flowing.

Power of Shared Messages

In this spirit I joined a panel discussion with my colleagues from Design CouncilDesign Commission for Wales and the Ministerial Advisory Group in Northern Ireland that focussed on the value of design. It was the first time that all four organisations had appeared together in this way and I for one hope it won’t be the last. While we each have different roles and face challenges specific to our nation, there is real power in a shared message around the value of design.  In particular, the shared belief in design as a great way to support better collaboration and outcomes for all was heartening at a time when the future of our places is under pressure like never before.

So whatever the next 12 months bring, I am already looking forward to 2021’s Festival and to sharing more of our work with our friends across the UK as we support each other in championing the value of design.

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