Liberal Leader Zed Seselja is up in arms over new ABS data showing the ACT spends $268 per head each year on public art compared to $110 in NSW.
One has to wonder what we could do with the art scene in Canberra if we each had a $200 voucher to spend on the artworks of our choosing or contribute to public subscriptions for art.
“ACT Labor is clearly sending the message to the community that they regard public art as a higher priority than the improvement of basic services like roads, health and education.
“The Canberra Liberals believe the number one priority of the government should be providing improved basic services and easing the relentless cost pressures placed on Canberra households.
“Canberrans have a right to question the priorities of ACT Labor. This is a tired government that has forgotten what Canberrans are going through,” Mr Seselja concluded.
[Photo of the Belconnen Way "Owl" ($400,000) by Gerry Built]
UPDATE: This from a spokesperson for Arts Minister Joy Burch:
just to correct the record on the art funding story the libs put out. While they use public art in the headline of their media release, the $268 per person figure is for all “arts and culture” funding, of which public art is a very small component. If you read the media release you will note they don’t attach this figure to public art.
So the $268 per person figure covers museums, galleries, funding of arts organisations, arts grants, arts events/festivals etc.
Also, no public art funds have been appropriated (ie from an ACT budget) since the 2008-09 Budget. That budget committed funds through the percent-for-art scheme for four years, as is typical for budget appropriations. A decision was made in early 2009 to not allocate any further funds to public art once the 2008-09 funding allocation was exhausted (2011-12 is the fourth and final year).
In light of this, the poll is a bit misleading, as the government would agree that $268 per person on public art alone is a bit excessive!