As part of Edinburgh’s attempt to establish itself as a ‘tele-city' of the future, the district council is heading a bid for European funding which would enable the city to host a ‘virtual festival’ in August.

The idea of a virtual festival, which would link artists from several European cities using state-of-the-art fibre optics, is part of a proposal for a European Community scheme set up to generate community interest in new technology. The bid consortium called Create. which has the backing of BT and lBM, expects to hear later this month if it has secured funding from the EC. However district council officers working on the project say some kind of virtual festival is likely to go ahead even if the bid is not successful.

‘We are looking at all these issues of how to use technology creatively,‘ says council grants officer Margaret Barbier.


_-—“‘-—-—~WJ r’ mt“ W...“

‘Virtual’ artsfestivl looks set to go on-Iine

Changing channels: a local television campaigner ties a symbolic knot to ‘reciaim' a TV transmitter

‘Using the arts as a vehicle for urban regeneration is not new but this is taking it a step further. It's an idea that has very much found its time and we‘re looking at it from a youth angle.’

The virtual festival idea was tested on a small scale with a live link-up between Castlebrae school in Craigmillar and a Berlin open-access television channel. Three Edinburgh bands Big Girl‘s Blouse. Where's Adam and Dirge -— played live down a lSDN high-resolution video link. Dave Rushton of the Institute for Local Television, who organised the lSDN link, plans to set up a regular slot on the Berlin cable channel for Scottish bands.

Rushton believes the fact that Edinburgh bands can get on German television but have no access to programmes in Scotland shows the need for some sort of local channel something the [LT has long

campaigned for. The recent bids for a

Channel 5 franchise appeared to lack any local dimension, with the highest bid coming from a Canadian consortium CanWest which says it plans to offer only UK-wide programming.

‘Television remains restricted by major media owners.‘ says Rushton. ‘But I think there is a burgeoning undercurrent of interest from people who want local access to the media. It‘s the information equivalent of who owns your water control is vital for any developing economy.‘

Rushton's view, which is increasingly being supported by Labour MPs, is that Channel 5 should logically become a Scottish channel which would give Scotland an equivalent of Welsh Channel 4. ‘People should write to the lTC [which will award the Channel 5 franchise later this year] and say they don‘t think there’s very much in it for Scotland.‘ he says. (Eddie Gibb)

Travelling tarnilies in Scotland are objecting to the introduction ot video cameras on local authority travellers’ sites. The cameras are part oi the growing use of video surveillance by councils as a way of combating violent crime and has already resulted in the CityHlatch scheme in Glasgow’s city centre.

Cameras were tirst installed on a travellers’ site in Inverness six months ago and since then it has been virtually abandoned. Despite this, Edinburgh District Council has plans to instal cameras on one at its sites. Mary McPhee, a resident at Edinburgh’s Duddingston site, complains ot a lack ot consultation. ‘They want to put video cameras up on more sites,’ she says. ‘The reality is this makes them like concentration canps and it’s alien to our way of Iite.’

4 The List 19 May-l Jun 1995

Scottish travellers threaten boycott of spy camera sites

The lnvemess cameras were installed because of the site’s turbulent history of vandalism and violence, according to the council’s depute housing director Murray Cochrane. ‘Four years ago it was virtually destroyed and effectively closed down,’ he says. ‘it was reopened last July after being returbished completely.’

However Cochrane admitted that the site was underused since the installation of cameras. ‘It has been lying empty, I don’t deny that - but it isn’t empty now,’ he says. But I wouldn’t say it is because oi the cameras - there may be other reasons why people don’t use the site.’

One local authority employee on a travellers’ site, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed staff have been assaulted and trouble is common. ‘lt you want to know about cameras, ask

how many tires have been maliciously started on sites,’ he said. The council source says that there were also problems with rival groups of travellers making trouble on sites. ‘It is handy to have cameras up, to stop the factions trom coming and warring.’

Edinburgh District Council is now considering installing surveillance cameras on the Duddingston site. This is in line with the local authority’s policy for multi-storey tlats, according to Jackie Brock oi the housing deparbnent. ‘Dur multi-storeys have all got security cameras,’ she says. ‘There was concern at first but they are very popular now.’

However Glasgow District Council is remaining cautious about surveillance on travellers’ sites. ‘Dur use of cameras is mainly restricted to high- rise estates,’ according to assistant chief housing otticer Hugh McDonald. ‘We would not instal them without consultation, and it the residents decided cameras were not tor them we would be extremely reluctant to iorce that upon them.’ (Stephen Naysmith)

Sisters seek cash-free skill economy

Women in Glasgow are clubbing together to join a scheme which promotes the trading of skills and labour without the exchange of money. This is one of a growing number of local exchange trading schemes (LETS) in Scotland which aim to provide an alternative to the cash economy by enabling communities to share skills ranging from child care to car maintenance.

There are already ten LETS up and running in Scotland but, according to Helen Caldwell treasurer of the newly formed Glasgow Wornen’s LETS. this one will be different. ‘There are two reasons for having a women-only LETS.' she says. ‘Some women feel more secure about it; the safety of allowing someone into your house. for instance. Also i think the mixed ones are quite middle-class. We are hoping to have more success in moving out into the community.’

The first meeting ofthe group is today (Thursday) and is intended to introduce people to the idea and find out what skills are on offer among potential members.

The basis of the LETS system is an imaginary currency which many groups call ‘groats'. but the women's group has opted to call them ‘quines'. A directory lists the services on offer from members with a list of notional costs. Payment is made by ‘cheque'. with each member receiving an account book.

‘We are trying not to have a hierarchy. so that psychotherapy will be of the same value as cleaning. for example,‘ says Caldwell. ‘There should be a diversity of skills. including areas like car maintenance or helping move house. not normally thought of as “women's skills".‘

The LETS movement in Glasgow has struggled so far to make an impact in some of the more deprived communities it is intended to help. Other groups in the city. such as the ones based in Hyndland and Kelvingrove. have appealed to members who are attracted to the idea of an ‘altemative‘ economy. This might raise doubts about whether LETS are of more ideological than practical value the women’s group is hoping to make the breakthrough. (Stephen Naysmith)

Forfurther information on the Glasgow Women is LETS. contact the Women '3 Library. 109 Trongate. Glasgow GI 5HD. The first meeting is on Thurs 18 May in Whistler '5 Mother. Byres Road at 6.30pm.