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Changes to public art funding

By 28 April 2009 57

There’s been a lot of talk over the weekend about announced changes to the controversial public art program.

Oddly enough none of it has appeared online.

So I asked the Chief Minister’s office if there would be a statement on the subject and they have kindly provided this:

    Statement from the Minister for the Arts, Jon Stanhope:

    The economic downturn has led the Government to review its level of investment in public art and the recent decision to cease the Percent-for-Art Scheme.

    New funding to the Scheme will be capped to $1.2 million each year over the next two years and then cease. The Government will then review its capacity to provide ongoing support for public art.

    The decision to cease the Scheme has led to a re-examination of priorities within the now finite level of funding available. A key consideration has been spreading the benefit of remaining funds across the ACT.

    The decision to discontinue the Major Canberra Artwork project has not been taken lightly. Issues raised by the NCA and the continuing level of uncertainty regarding the future of the City Hill site, particularly the strong potential for a change in the height of Vernon Circle, were also significant considerations in discontinuing the project.

So there you go.

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57 Responses to Changes to public art funding
#1
Sammy5:39 pm, 28 Apr 09

In the above photo, which item is the public art?

I think the orange sign with the truck on it is purdy.

#2
jakez6:07 pm, 28 Apr 09

Hmm, Government cuts a program that I hate, but they are doing it because they have spent like drunken sailors across the board.

I’m sort of happy and not happy at the same time.

#3
Thumper6:10 pm, 28 Apr 09

Um… I agree with Jake…

#4
RayP6:11 pm, 28 Apr 09

These decisions on public art seems to have come as a complete surprise. There does not seem to have been any draft proposals or prior discusson so that people would have been aware of what was being considered. I don’t recall any adds in the paper seeking submissions on the future of public art in Canberra, but I might have missed them.

Was there a consultation process prior to this decision? Was there consultation with the arts community or anybody else? And what happens after two years? Is this the end of public art in Canberra? Is anybody going to be consulted on what happens with public art in future?

I have the impression that one of the key issues from the last election was that people in Canberra wanted more consultation before decisions were made. There does not seem to have been much consultation before this decision.

Stanhope also gives as reasons for cancelling the art work for City Hill “issues raised by the NCA and the continuing level of uncertainty regarding the future of the City Hill site”. But I would have thought that a reasonable decision maker would have checked out these sorts of issues before holding a competition and having artists spend time and money putting in entries.

#5
Ian6:17 pm, 28 Apr 09

Seems a reasonable decision to me. Curious to know what’s driving it though?

Perhaps the scarceness of worthwile art for them to spend the money on?

#6
taninaus6:27 pm, 28 Apr 09

personally I think it is about time. we have lots of things needing to be done and art should only be one part of it. Part of the problem is the art work that they commissioned from the funding might have satisfied the arts community but there wasn’t a good focus on what the community would enjoy/like/appreciate. Those tall things like in the picture hardly ever move and you only get to see them for maybe 1 minute before you wiz past. Visiting other big cities I really like some of the art work in the major centres and attractions, you can walk past it and really appreciate it – and we have the pronographic sheep!

#7
taninaus6:28 pm, 28 Apr 09

taninaus said :

and we have the pronographic sheep!

oops – pornographic!

#8
54-116:30 pm, 28 Apr 09

Unfortunately this decision was not made in time to save Garran shops from one of the ugliest pieces of “art” that this useless govt has ever initiated – see http://203.9.249.2/e-registers/pubnote/pdf/PLAN-200914235-Details_Sheet-01.pdf

#9
Mr Evil6:32 pm, 28 Apr 09

RayP said :

These decisions on public art seems to have come as a complete surprise. There does not seem to have been any draft proposals or prior discusson so that people would have been aware of what was being considered. I don’t recall any adds in the paper seeking submissions on the future of public art in Canberra, but I might have missed them.

Was there a consultation process prior to this decision? Was there consultation with the arts community or anybody else? And what happens after two years? Is this the end of public art in Canberra? Is anybody going to be consulted on what happens with public art in future?

I have the impression that one of the key issues from the last election was that people in Canberra wanted more consultation before decisions were made. There does not seem to have been much consultation before this decision.

Stanhope also gives as reasons for cancelling the art work for City Hill “issues raised by the NCA and the continuing level of uncertainty regarding the future of the City Hill site”. But I would have thought that a reasonable decision maker would have checked out these sorts of issues before holding a competition and having artists spend time and money putting in entries.

Stanhope? Consultation??? That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day!

#10
OpenYourMind26:58 pm, 28 Apr 09

I like lots of the art and I think our city spending 1% of its budget on art is a positive thing. A healthy arts program is a sign of a progressive society.

Lots of people don’t like the more controversial art pieces – but that’s the nature of art. If you want your art handed to you on a platter, go and look at the art in a McDonalds ‘restaurant’ or a hotel room. Some of the greatest pieces of art in history were unliked and controversial when they were created.

Oh, and the wind sculpture on Adelaide Ave (and in Tuggers) are awesome.

#11
RayP7:10 pm, 28 Apr 09

I had a look around the three main party webs sites for their policies on public art.

I did not find anything on the Labor Party web site. Nothing in the Plaform. A bit strange given that they were spending lots on public art.

In the Greens Arts Policy they call for “extending the public art program by increasing the proportion of ephemeral work and introducing a percent-for-art program in all major private developments”. There doesn’t seem much chance of that with the percent-for-art program for public developments having been chopped.

The Liberal’s policy is to have ongoing funding rising to $302 000 a year, proposals from local artists and the public then voting on a shortlist of suggested art pieces.

I think this could provide a starting point for developing a way forward on public art. There would be less spending but still some spending on public art, it would support local artists and there would be some level of community spport for the art chosen.

#12
BerraBoy687:33 pm, 28 Apr 09

Sonic’s office says: “New funding to the Scheme will be capped to $1.2 million each year over the next two years and then cease. The Government will then review its capacity to provide ongoing support for public art”.

Cease after the next two years? Wow, just in time for the run up to the next election. Coincidence? I think not.

#13
Clown Killer7:47 pm, 28 Apr 09

A shame really. As far as I’m concerned public art is most certainly within the bailiwick of what a sensible Government should be spending money on rather than competing with the private sector to deliver services that are far better provided by the private sector.

Much of the art we have succeed in its role by challenging the stupid (“that’s not art!”), improving aesthetic amenity and adding value to nearby privately held property and stimulating discussion (viz Al Grasby).

Retards of course will be unaware that the first exhibition of Monet’s paintings at the Salon in Paris resulted in rioting in the streets. In that context the lame-arse whinging of the far left and ignorant right kind of makes them look a little out of their depth.

#14
grundy9:19 pm, 28 Apr 09

“within the now finite level of funding available”

When was it ever infinite?!

#15
sepi9:25 pm, 28 Apr 09

“uncertainty regarding City Hill site”

Are they still looking to build a new a bigger Leg Ass building up there?

#16
Fisho10:21 pm, 28 Apr 09

Do we *really* want to appear as a city with a soul and start attracting Sydneyites and other pointless human units?

The subterfuge of bland, boring nothingness serves Canberra well.

#17
bd8410:55 pm, 28 Apr 09

Personally i’m not against artwork. But it should be decent to begin with and priced reasonably, none of the “artworks” so far commissioned have been either of these things.

Perhaps when chairman jon will commit to proper consultation next time the arts program comes up and give the public a say in the choice of the artworks, rather than find out about it the first time you drive past an ugly $200k monstrosity on monday morning.

#18
ant11:02 pm, 28 Apr 09

I don’t mind indecent art, so long as it’s art (ie difficult to make). Like those sheep in Civic. I have no clue what they’re doing, but they’re probably art. I couldn’t make them.

#19
goose6:48 am, 29 Apr 09

Spend the 1.2 million pulling the crap down :)

#20
Pommy bastard8:02 am, 29 Apr 09

The problem with public art is it’s designed, created, by and for the “arts community”, not by or for the public.

Personally, my life would not be one jot the more poor if they pulled down the broken clock, the rock egg cups, the scrap steel grasses, and all the other waste of money rubbish that has been erected in Canberra.

The sheep can stay, as kids play on them.

#21
Thumper8:15 am, 29 Apr 09

I like public art, but some of it is simply hideous and out of place.

#22
Gobbo9:04 am, 29 Apr 09

Public art is a wonderful investment in the future. However, it would be nice if there was the pretence of consultation undertaken before the installation of any. Then at least if I didn’t like it, I could blame myself for not bothering to comment on the proposals.

#23
Jim Jones9:32 am, 29 Apr 09

Thumper said :

I like public art, but some of it is simply hideous and out of place.

The thing about art is that different people like different things. I’m hard put to name one piece of art that everyone likes. I suspect if everyone liked it, it wouldn’t be art.

#24
justbands9:49 am, 29 Apr 09

>> Unfortunately this decision was not made in time to save Garran shops from one of the ugliest pieces of “art” that this useless govt has ever initiated – see http://203.9.249.2/e-registers/pubnote/pdf/PLAN-200914235-Details_Sheet-01.pdf

Actually, that one looks pretty cool to me.

#25
Skidbladnir10:19 am, 29 Apr 09

I’m flabbergasted.
My flab is literally aghast to the greatest extent possible, that anybody is surprised that this was coming.

In the buildup to the ’08 ACT Election, members of the community on the ABC local talkradio and RiotACT readership were asking questions about public art, and the ability of the budget to withstand any economic downturn.
As far as I’m aware, none of us have teams of civil finance experts, nor economic haruspices available to us, but it seemed as plain as the noses on our faces that these issues were coming more than six months ago.

So either the Minister for the Arts spent the last year or so in a land of personal and was never dissuaded from it by his staff, or in a state of denial to his staff.
Either way, he continued to spend like Paris Hilton, even though it was from the public purse.

By the way, One Percent for Art has been reasonably successful in other jurisdictions when made as a requirement on _developers and architects_, and when the eventual users of the development are able to have some say in the choice\brief of art to be produced.

(EG: Colorado has an art selection process enshrined in law of…:
Each public art process is facilitated by a committee of at least eight members.
The project architect, a representative of the state agency under whose jurisdiction the site resides, at least one “tenant” or daily user of the building, a citizen representing the host community, a professional artist, a member of Colorado Council of the Arts, and one member each from the Colorado Senate and the House of Representatives.)

The ACT model only required consultation of a single “community stakeholder” to take part in the art brief on any “major” commission, and maybe having a single community stakeholder sit on the selection panel (formed of a majority of unelected employees of the responsible Government Agency), while only answering only to one Minister, who was also the Chief Minister and Party Leader, so beyond reproach when it came to public criticism from members of that Party.
(Policy document here: http://www.arts.act.gov.au/pages/images/Action%20Statement%20for%20Public%20Art.pdf)

That it attracted such an astounding level of criticism, and is being quietly killed before a budget, says that it was possibly either a badly conceived concept, or as is a long-standing tradition in ACT Governance, simply heroically mismanaged.

(Anyone from artsACT want to tell us a story and set me straight, either directly or through Johnboy?)

#26
Skidbladnir10:28 am, 29 Apr 09

Bah, insert the word fantasy after “So either the Minister for the Arts spent the last year or so in a land of personal”…

It should read “So either the Minister for the Arts spent the last year or so in a land of personal <b fantasy and was never dissuaded from it by his staff, or in a state of denial to his staff.”

#27
Pommy bastard10:52 am, 29 Apr 09

I’d like to see the results of a Canberra wide poll on whether even $1.2 million should be wasted spent on “public Art”, given the track record of ugly grot that we have paid out of our taxes for so far.

#28
Digga11:03 am, 29 Apr 09

That flappy thing at Yarra Glen (near the big Woden roundabout/intersection) never got lit up. It’s dark (and practically invisible) at night. He said it’d be lit originally.

Maybe they’re also saving on carbon footprint by hiding it when the sun goes down or helping not to distract motorists when visibility is poorest. Who knows?!

#29
RayP11:20 am, 29 Apr 09

Skidbladnir,

Colorado also seems to give a path forward on public art.

Though, the sort of consultation process they use seems to be really obvious as a way to do things if you wanted community support.

I don’t think that public art is a bad concept. I think that the publc art program is a great example of how not to do things in a democracy.

The Government spends lots of money without much consultation on things many people don’t like. Then, when people criticise it, it cancels the whole program

A Government using those methods could kill any program.

#30
ant11:58 am, 29 Apr 09

If they’re going to have rubbish like the flappy thing at Yarra Glen, they might as well put up some useful windmills and make electricity from it.

You’d think the flappy thing could be made to generate its own power, so it could be lit at night.

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