Art plans fall through; $100,000 still in kitty

Bill Acklin
Bill Acklin
The committee deciding on a public art project to follow Regan Gentry's Harbour Mouth Molars on Portsmouth Dr has gone back to the drawing board, after two projects under consideration did not come to fruition.

And Dunedin city councillor Bill Acklin said yesterday whatever the final decision was, he expected the community to be "taken on the journey", so while the next work might be controversial, it would not be such a surprise.

The $45,000 Harbour Mouth Molars attracted considerable comment after it was installed at the highly visible harbourside site in April last year.

Two months after Gentry's work was installed, in June last year, Dunedin City Council community arts adviser Cara Paterson confirmed a project and location had been identified for the next work. She said the committee was working with an artist to confirm details, and hoped to have resource consent to proceed "within the next few months".

The art in public places committee has met twice in the past two months. On both occasions the public has been excluded.

Cr Acklin, one of two councillors on the eight-person committee, said two "fairly significant projects" had been considered in the past year and almost went ahead.

The projects remained confidential between the artists and the committee, but Cr Acklin said one had relied on money from other organisations that did not eventuate, while the other had consent issues with the site chosen.

"Both have been declined by the subcommittee for those reasons," Cr Acklin said.

The committee would go back to the drawing board for the next project, though there were works that could be reconsidered.

Cr Acklin said he wanted the community to be better informed about the next project once it was chosen.

"One thing that happened with the molars was the community was not taken on the journey," he said.

Instead they just "appeared", to the surprise of many.

"That could be a lesson for the council in future."

Once a decision was made, he hoped as much information as possible could be provided to the community so people knew what the project would be, and why it was chosen.

The budget of $100,000 over a two-year period for projects remained, though Cr Acklin said it would be considered along with every other budget when the council looked at cuts in the next few months.

He would not support it being cut, though he said nothing would be "sacred" as the council sought to balance its books.


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