Dundee, Angus, Perth and North Fife have combined to submit a joint bid to become Scotland’s first ever UK City of Culture, with hundreds of millions of pounds secured by the Tay Cities Deal to support the regions’ many art and culture institutions .
But the Scottish Conservatives have claimed Dundee and Tayside as a whole has not invested enough money or time, comments which have been branded “blatant nonsense”.
Linked by the longest river in Scotland, the Tay Cities region has a huge number of cultural attractions, including the V&A Dundee, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Arbroath Abbey and St Andrews University.
North East MSP Tess White commented on the join bid stressing her fears a lack of “professional structure” in the arts could leave the region at a disadvantage compared to the other 20 entrants because of “cultural underinvestment” in the region.
SNP Dundee council administration leader John Alexander pointed out half of the local authorities taking part in the bid were run by Scottish Conservative groups and said it was “alarming” how out of touch Ms White’s comments were.
He pointed out the £150 million promised under the Tay Cities Deal which will be injected into cultural projects in the coming years.
Ms White said: “I am worried that the SNP have underinvested in Tayside’s culture for years.
“There isn’t the professional structure that other parts of Scotland, certainly the UK, enjoy.
“Our local authorities are going to have to work so much harder to offset that disadvantage.
“They have been left to just get on with it. But this is far too important a prize for the region to start on the back foot.”
‘Alarming and amusing’
Mr Alexander said: “To anyone that is aware of Dundee’s journey and Tayside as a whole, these comments are blatant nonsense.
“It is somewhat alarming and equally amusing at how out of touch these comments are with reality.
“It should not be lost on anyone that in Tayside, the Conservatives form the administration in half of the councils.
“As well as the millions of pounds supporting tourism by the councils, we are collaborating on the delivery of ambitious cultural projects through the Tay Cities Deal, funded by the SNP government, to the tune of £150 million.
“I am currently in Cornwall, at the Eden Project, working on our latest ambitious cultural project.
“We recently provided support for the Museum of Transport, Science Centre refurbishment, RRS Discovery upgrades and also delivered the V&A Dundee design museum.”