“People would rather be shown how valuable you are, not told.”


Roger Babson was the author of more than forty books on economic and social problems, hundreds of magazine articles and newspaper columns. He was also a  popular lecturer on business and financial trends, but the above quote is equally applicable to the value placed on art.

The image above is one of Banksy’s public art installations.

Banksy is an internationaly recognized artist  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banksy).

The cost of the above installation was most likely under $100.  The small budget does nothing to negatively impact the value of his work.

In stark comparison ammendments to the Offical Plan documents recently submitted speak to the subject of setting aside large sums of money for public art.

Here is an exerpt:

The Region has requested a modification to the public art policies of the Official Plan which would require that 1% of the capital budget for all major regional and local municipal buildings be dedicated to public art. 
This modification would be in keeping with the policies of the Region’s Official Plan. The Town’s ten year Capital Investment Plan identifies four new facilities (JOC, recreation facility, library and youth centre) with a total project cost of approximately $35.5 million. 
Therefore a 1% dedication for public art would require $350,000, should these buildings be completed during the next 10 years. 
Council may consider a lesser percentage or a capped amount over a specific period.

Over on Clr. Buck’s Blog she has commented on the subject:  

I’m hardly surprised that this policy complete with an astronomic $ figure is the brain fart of our debt laden Region, and although I was advocating the town adopt a public art policy given the major failing to award $ for a public art project fully recognizing the absence of a policy ( http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/setting-a-precedenton-fire ), this certainly wasn’t the framework I was envisioning.

How is this considered even remotely accountable?

The laughable preliminary outline regarding Public Art in the Promenade “Urban Design” Study is found under section 3.1.4. it can be seen here:

Until this is extrapolated upon with a great deal more satisfaction, especially with regards to determining budgets I would suggest council consider a significantly lesser percentage.

Any councilor foolish enough to embrace something this banal needs to look at some other municipalities to get a better understanding on the subject.

Toronto’s Public Art Plan (art from which is referenced as a precedent in the Promenade Study) is available here: 

Hamiltons’ Public Art Master plan is available here:

I no more object to public art than I do “culture”.

Both should be embraced.

What I object to is earmarking large sums of money for this purpose without any context as to the art, artists or projects it is designed to serve.

Perhaps Dave Barry said it best:

“It was Public Art, defined as art that is purchased by experts who are not spending their own personal money.”

Which is exactly what that amatuerish abomination is propped up next to the doors at town hall serves to remind us of.

Watts on your mind?

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