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Glasgow overspent and made some terrible mistakes, such as its trashy Gallery of Modern Art, ending up with more on its plate than it could realistically support.
The remapping of Cardiff Bay and its Wales Millennium Centre are much liked, though ironically they are beginning to drain a lot of money and energy away from the dreary city centre.
Newcastle Gateshead narrowly lost out to Liverpool in the competition for the accolade of European City of Culture in 2008, but it will host - perhaps more significantly - June's World Summit on Arts and Culture."I think Liverpool won City of Culture because it had more to gain and so much that needed doing," says Andrew Dixon, the hugely influential chief executive of the development agency, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, and former head of Arts Council England North-East.
"We already had everything in place, but the process of applying was vital, because it forced us to define our aims and policies.
So maybe we can rank it as the best thing we've never had." The history of this sort of urban regeneration begins about 15 years ago when Glasgow became the first British city to tap into the European partnership funding that was available for cultural projects.
Build a dazzling concert hall or an art gallery, so the theory went, and you will attract high-spending middle-class people back into the decaying inner city.
Gentrifying hotels, restaurants and retail will follow in their wake, creating jobs and pushing up land values.
The city's profile will rise, tourists flock and money burgeon.As a strategy, it makes sense, especially since the National Lottery kicked in during the mid-1990s, providing access to another pot of grants.But there are many pitfalls and problems in the tactical management of such schemes, and our major cities have experienced variable success in implementing them.And although it may seem like the humble electricity pylon is doing its job pretty well, a Government-run competition has just unveiled six potential replacements - after receiving an extraordinary 250 entries.Most people probably haven't noticed any burning need to replace the current design, but the competition organisers point out that 'the familiar steel lattice tower has barely changed since the 1920s.'The contest was first announced in May, but the panel of judges - including Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and a host of top engineers and architects - has only just whittled the 250 entries down to six shortlisted nominees.Proposed designs include the 'Plexus', which changes shape depending on the surrounding landscape, the naturally inspired 'Flower Tower', and a design specifically built to provide an attractive silhouette against the sky.