Trial of process for public art rejected

A proposal to trial a new process for commissioning public art for Dunedin has been rejected by city councillors.

Council staff had proposed working with the Otago Sculpture Trust (OST) on a specific project in the city's warehouse district, to see if a model proposed by the trust might work.

An artwork was planned as part of rejuvenation work in the area and it was seen as an opportunity to trial how a new process covering everything from selection of artworks to location decisions, fundraising and installation might work, events and community development manager Rebecca Williams said.

The Otago Sculpture Trust has for many years suggested the city needs a structure set up to make decisions concerning public art for the city, as the Wellington Sculpture Trust did in Wellington.

Council staff had proposed the council devote $10,000 in the 2014-15 year to a trial working with the OST.

The idea received support from Cr Jinty MacTavish, who said it was a good way to determine what worked and what did not as the council worked through its development of an Arts and Culture Strategy and the plans for implementing it.

However, other councillors were more reluctant.

Cr Aaron Hawkins was nervous about focusing on working only with a sculpture group, when public art was not just about sculpture, despite earlier assurances from the trust that it planned to work with a wide range and variety of people on the project.

Cr Lee Vandervis was concerned there was not the standard of sculpture coming out of Dunedin that there was coming out of Wellington. He was assured by Mrs Williams there was amazing talent in Dunedin, although that did not mean the council should limit itself to Dunedin artists for its public artworks.

Cr Kate Wilson said there were probably lots of community groups that would like to get a little bit of funding to do something for their community.

However, Cr Richard Thomson said it seemed like a good idea to him to put small amounts into things that would generate potentially significant returns.

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