Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Digging Started On Site for Adam Smith's Statue's Plynth

More news of the unveiling of the statue of Adam Smith in Edinburgh on 4 July announced today in The Edinburgh Evening News (11 June 2008) by Michael Blackley:

"AN annual Adam Smith day is set to be staged in the Capital by the group behind a new statue of the famous economist on the Royal Mile.

A two-day series of events to commemorate the giant of political thinking is to take place this year to mark the unveiling of the 20-foot statue of Smith in Parliament Square on July 4.

The Adam Smith Institute – the authoritative research body behind the statue – is planning to give the celebrations an annual place on Edinburgh's events calendar.

Dr Eamonn Butler, director of the institute, said the commemorative day would attract academics and Smith enthusiasts from around the world.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Margaret Thatcher are among those he hopes will attend in the future.

Debates, lectures and exhibitions are among events planned for the day, which would also involve an annual re-dedication of the new statue.

"Adam Smith has an enormous international fan club – that is one of the reasons it is important to do this," said Dr Butler.

"The tomb site in Canongate kirkyard is not very impressive and neither the church nor the council wants large numbers of people traipsing across the graveyard to see the tomb. This is a chance to recognise him in an appropriate way."

Nobel Laureate in economics Vernon Smith is to unveil the statue on July 4. Organisers expect around 200 people to attend the ceremony, including academics from across Europe, the United States and Canada. A debate, titled "This house would prefer to be led by an invisible hand" is to be held in The Caves on South Niddry Street on 3 July, featuring debaters including former Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth.

An exhibition of Smith books and papers will be held on 4 July, followed by a dinner at Edinburgh University's Playfair Library.

The new statue has been created by Alexander Stoddart, the sculptor who made the David Hume statue on the Royal Mile. Preparations for the new statue have already started, with the area where it is to be erected – the bottom end of Parliament Square – being fenced off in preparation.

Although many statues have been the focus of anti-capitalist protests, Dr Butler played down the chance of something similar happening to Smith.

He said: "With almost every statue you get a traffic cone on its head, but few get damaged. Adam Smith is accepted by the left and the right. He believed in the free market because he thought it was the best way to help the poor."

There may also soon be the welcome news if the Scottish Government approves the purchase by Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University of Panmure House, the last building still standing that is associated with Adam Smith from the 12-years he lived there, and which Edinburgh Business School plans to renovate as a education centre for the post-graduate study of Adam Smith political economy and modern post-graduate economics.

The detailed plans for the two days, 3rd and 4th July, are still shaping up. It looks like it will be intensive and well supported. As I get more details (I return to Edinburgh on 14 June for more hand-on activity supporting the events) I shall post them on Lost Legacy.


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