A DIRECTOR of culture should be appointed in Scotland's capital to ensure the city is a world leader in the arts, according to a new document by a group of industry figures.

The group, which called itself Desire Lines, has today published a "call to action" which proposes a series of radical ideas for boosting culture, finding and maintaining venues, and aiding artist and artistic organisations and companies in Edinburgh.

Its is also calling for "citizens, agencies and organisations" based in the city to sign up to an 'Edinburgh Cultural Promise', which includes a pledge to "articulate the positive impact of arts and culture in Edinburgh and maximise the resources available to help it thrive".

The 28-page document asks the City of Edinburgh Council to "demonstrate their commitment to culture within the city by appointing a Director of Culture who would be a member of their senior management team."

A director of culture would ensure a "place at the top table" for the issue, its authors believe.

The document said: "The key role of arts and culture in the economic, social and cultural development of Edinburgh is significant.

"Yet the contribution of these industries towards improved health and wellbeing and in driving economic investment and tourism is not always fully recognised."

The call to action also raises the prospect of a "tourism dividend" where a proportion of income generated in the city is re-distributed into arts and cultural organisations.

It also asks the city to "identify gaps in venue provision and decide how to fill those gaps by refurbishing existing venues or building new ones" as well as investigating empty council buildings that might be put to community use.

In the report, The Herald's theatre critic Neil Cooper says: "Art doesn't work from top-down thinking. It comes from the backrooms of pubs and creative spaces with cheap rents where artists can make a scene.

"We don't need to look to Austin, Manchester or Glasgow for advice; we have all the expertise we need in this city, right now.

"This isn't about money, it's about developing a will to do great things, enabling artists, and protecting cultural assets, so they can't be turned into one more branch of Sainsbury's Local."

Ideas and themes in the document have been formed from public meetings, workshops and an online survey organised by Desire Lines in recent months.

The authors of the report believe all the ideas can be put into action in the next decade.

The document, published online today, urges the council to "appoint a cultural champion to be a high profile advocate for culture within the city".

This cultural champion, yet to be named, would lead a "task force" comprising of top professionals from key sectors such as health, education, environment, business and technology.

Other ideas mooted include the creation of a directory of "angel investors" to hold an annual Dragon's Den - akin to the BBC TV programme - to allow arts and cultural organisations to "pitch for new investment."

Members of the steering group of Desire Lines include Faith Liddell of Festivals Edinburgh, Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Fiona Bradley, director of The Fruitmarket Gallery, and Ken Hay, chief executive of the Centre of the Moving Image, as well as figures from the Culture Enterprise Office, Dance Base, the Usher Hall, and other Edinburgh venues and companies.

Other ideas in the report include reducing licensing costs to ensure they are proportionate to the size of the venue and reducing business rates for properties which are put to cultural use.

Desire Lines hope the consultation will aid the City of Edinburgh Council's revision of its cultural policy.

A discussion session, presented by journalist Joyce McMillan, is planned for May 19 at the Summerhall venue to discuss the issues further.