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Canberrans paying too much for public art? [With poll]

By johnboy 5 September 2011 37

the owl

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]

Public art funding at $270 per head per year

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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!


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37 Responses to
Canberrans paying too much for public art? [With poll]
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Thoroughly Smashed 1:26 pm 20 Sep 11

poetix said :

Thoroughly Smashed said :

poetix said :

And artists don’t need to eat at all.

So public art is some kind of work for the dole scheme?

No, it’s called ‘get paid for your work’. Radical.

Nobody’s suggesting that the government should appropriate artists’ work.

poetix 1:14 pm 20 Sep 11

Thoroughly Smashed said :

poetix said :

And artists don’t need to eat at all.

So public art is some kind of work for the dole scheme?

No, it’s called ‘get paid for your work’. Radical.

Thoroughly Smashed 1:05 pm 20 Sep 11

poetix said :

And artists don’t need to eat at all.

So public art is some kind of work for the dole scheme?

poetix 12:54 pm 20 Sep 11

Emma29 said :

Why don’t we just NOT spend money on public art. I believe there are hundreds of aspiring artists who would be happy to donate thier work to the public simply to get their name out there. There should be competitions, and the winner gets to have their art displayed. That way Canberra can vote on which art they want, and we are giving a great opportunity to aspiring artists. its a win win situation that doesn’t use tax payers money to produce gaints piles of warped metal or the recently presented creepy mother and children statue at Cooleman Court.

Amateur art is really going to be better. And artists don’t need to eat at all.

Emma29 10:43 am 20 Sep 11

Why don’t we just NOT spend money on public art. I believe there are hundreds of aspiring artists who would be happy to donate thier work to the public simply to get their name out there. There should be competitions, and the winner gets to have their art displayed. That way Canberra can vote on which art they want, and we are giving a great opportunity to aspiring artists. its a win win situation that doesn’t use tax payers money to produce gaints piles of warped metal or the recently presented creepy mother and children statue at Cooleman Court.

Emma29 10:40 am 20 Sep 11

Angelina said :

WilliamZ said :

Your point about using $200 vouchers to fund “public” art misses the who point of public art. Placing strings on the money to fund art ensures that art like the Belconnen Owl could never happen! By the same token, why don’t we stop all public funding of private schools in the ACT? Why should my tax money go to support religious instruction? If private schools open their enrollment “blindly” to all religions and socioeconomic groups, then maybe some funding would be reasonable…

Because private schools are useful and floppy-penis-owl public arts are not. And opening the door blindly to all socio-economic groups is silly, how would we keep out the rabble?

Haha thats exactly what it looks like and I 100% Agree!

alaninoz 6:08 pm 06 Sep 11

Jim Jones said :

Just like all the privately funded art works that exist throughout Australia in public spaces, like … umm … hang on … actually there are *no* examples of this.

What a sad, grey world it would be if everyone thought like this.

Says more about the state of philanthropy in Australia than it does about the artistic taste of RA posters.

zippyzippy 3:57 pm 06 Sep 11

MrMan said :

Jim Jones said :

MrMan said :

I appreciate art but I don’t think it should be the govt. responsibility to waste millions each year. PEOPLE who like art should commission it. Personally I’d rather $268 put back in my pocket each year and never see govt. funded art work again.

Just like all the privately funded art works that exist throughout Australia in public spaces, like … umm … hang on … actually there are *no* examples of this.

What a sad, grey world it would be if everyone thought like this.

Maybe so but I’m yet to see some publicly funded artwork in the ACT that does anything for me at all. We have some very expensive twisted scrap metal on the barton highway, pyramids of painted copper treated pine on the GDE, erotically posed sheep as well as an array of equally useless and bizarre crap in Garema place, and countless other examples of money down the drain all over the territory. We have some fantastic buildings, parks, natural wonders, festivals etc, why waste money funding kitsch?

What type of art would do something for you?

MrMan 3:50 pm 06 Sep 11

Jim Jones said :

MrMan said :

I appreciate art but I don’t think it should be the govt. responsibility to waste millions each year. PEOPLE who like art should commission it. Personally I’d rather $268 put back in my pocket each year and never see govt. funded art work again.

Just like all the privately funded art works that exist throughout Australia in public spaces, like … umm … hang on … actually there are *no* examples of this.

What a sad, grey world it would be if everyone thought like this.

Maybe so but I’m yet to see some publicly funded artwork in the ACT that does anything for me at all. We have some very expensive twisted scrap metal on the barton highway, pyramids of painted copper treated pine on the GDE, erotically posed sheep as well as an array of equally useless and bizarre crap in Garema place, and countless other examples of money down the drain all over the territory. We have some fantastic buildings, parks, natural wonders, festivals etc, why waste money funding kitsch?

p1 3:16 pm 06 Sep 11

I think that they should install giant “lasers” behind the eyes of the giant penis Owl, which are used to zap any vehicle running the red light at the intersection.

Jim Jones 2:46 pm 06 Sep 11

MrMan said :

I appreciate art but I don’t think it should be the govt. responsibility to waste millions each year. PEOPLE who like art should commission it. Personally I’d rather $268 put back in my pocket each year and never see govt. funded art work again.

Just like all the privately funded art works that exist throughout Australia in public spaces, like … umm … hang on … actually there are *no* examples of this.

What a sad, grey world it would be if everyone thought like this.

MrMan 2:38 pm 06 Sep 11

I appreciate art but I don’t think it should be the govt. responsibility to waste millions each year. PEOPLE who like art should commission it. Personally I’d rather $268 put back in my pocket each year and never see govt. funded art work again.

gumby34 12:08 pm 06 Sep 11

I would love to see a public art competition at Floriade or some such public event and the winner judged by the people and the ACT government purchase that. Got to be better than some of the pieces that have been forced upon us. The pile of sticks along the GDE is ….. and the owl. My kids think the government has camera’s and people in the eyes to spy on us all so be careful as you pass it…

At least they don’t see what I see when I look at the owl.

Gungahlin Al 11:54 am 06 Sep 11

zippyzippy said :

Deref said :

EvanJames said :

What about using the budget to run a competition, artists could submit either works, or prototypes, and an Archibald-like public judging ensue, maybe with the public acting as the Packers.

+1. Excellent idea!

Wait a second. Is it really $268 per head for “public art”? I thought the paper said that the money was for all cultural spending in the ACT. Actual public art would be a fraction of that. I feel like there might be some magic numbers going on here, just to support some public art politicking.

That’s a good point, missed by many, myself included.

Even Zed’s media release says “on arts funding” before quickly going back to the old public art flogging horse. “Arts funding” could be covering a lot of things – like one-off construction of arts centres for instance – centres with far wider community values than just arts interests.

I’d be wanting to know a lot more about the make-up of the numbers before attaching any credibility to Zed’s criticisms.

bigfeet 8:20 am 06 Sep 11

news.com.au has a gallery of ‘the worlds worst public artwork’ today.

No Canberra piece gets a mention! We need to try harder!

wildturkeycanoe 6:10 am 06 Sep 11

Art isn’t a commission based activity, it is about people expressing their feelings, trying to evoke reactions from others, an outlet for their “talent”. From what I’ve seen of Canberra “art”, the only reactions they get are when people find out the price tag. What emotion is there in a gigantic wooden statue [if it had wheels, it might serve a s a useful tool for invading a fortress] or a pile of scrap metal?? Canberra’s artists should put more effort into making something pleasing to the eye, something to make you feel happy or enlightened. These sculptured monstrosities do nothing more than add art rage to the road rage we suffer already.

Mozzie 11:24 pm 05 Sep 11

That’s almost $100 million per annum!

I find that figure kinda hard to believe. Surely the government can not be wasting that much money on art.

Spykler 9:36 pm 05 Sep 11

Doc Dogg said :

$400,000 for that “owl”…I would have done it for half that considering Bunnings is just down the road and I could have bought a bunch of chicken wire, plaster and wood there cheaply 🙂

Is there any connection whatsoever with Belconnen/Emu Ridge and this owl? What symbolism are they reaching out for? I laughed when I first saw it, now I know its price, the laughter has been replaced by disbelief..The sort of utter disbelief many encountered on their first viewing of the mangled steel mess passing for art on the GDE

Mr Evil 8:51 pm 05 Sep 11

I don’t know, but I actually like some of the public art on display in Canberra.

For example, the performance piece entitled “Slow Crawl to Work via the GDE” is a wonderful piece of work that never ceases to amaze me. And when you consider that it has taken 7 years (so far) to bring this piece together, $268 really is a small price to pay for such a quality work.

As to the Cube – relocate it outside Catherine Carter’s office at the ACT Property Council, and then everytime she gets on the phone to Zed to tell him what she wants him to say this week, it’ll flash like there’s no tomorrow!

Henry82 7:15 pm 05 Sep 11

I don’t mind art, but i do mind when money is blown on crap that’s easily destroyed, doesn’t attract visitors, or is severely over priced.

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