Dome Is Where the Heart Is

New Statesman (1996), February 27, 1998 | Go to article overview

Dome Is Where the Heart Is


The Millennium Dome received the powerful endorsement of the Prime Minister this week, and that is good. Its construction remains on time, the preliminary design plans look inventive and the audience projections encouraging. To cancel at this stage would mean writing off millions of pounds and thousands of jobs. That is a practical argument of the kind politicians cannot ignore; it is not the main one, however.

The Dome has been conceived as a showcase for British ingenuity and talent. Some of the plans, including concepts of travels through a vast body, floating through a landscape in which fantasies are stimulated, or finding out through interaction the limits and demands of environment, are intriguing.

True, it has elements of Disney, but also of the more successful museums. The question is not to damn it by association with one or other of these, but to see if the imaginations of the designers make a show which enlivens and stirs rather than dulls the senses as much modern entertainment does.

We, and more particularly our children, live in a fantasy world very largely constructed by American media. To propose and construct a British competitor requires energy, investment and a willingness to take risks. This is what the Dome does - it allows us to see if the much boosted creativity of new Britain can succeed at a level at once popular and engrossing, accessible and with some substance.

The Minister without Portfolio said this week that "if we succeed it will never be forgotten; if we fail we will never be forgiven". …

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