By Christian Barnett – Local Democracy Reporter
Plans for a £50,000 rolling scheme to promote art in the city’s public spaces hit a sizeable barrier after councillors decided it was too much money to commit at once.
Despite rejecting the call for the money, councillors did accept the new public art action plan and it will now be used when making future planning decisions as well as for a wider city arts strategy.
Cllr Marc Bayliss, leader of the city council, said that despite the strategy containing lots of “good stuff” he was weary of allowing a ‘rolling’ fund of £50,000 to fund the scheme and was apprehensive the council would then have to hand over another £50,000 when the money ran out.
It was hoped the proposal for an initial £50,000 rolling fund would kick-start and support public art initiatives and two working groups whilst allowing discussions to take place between potential funders and sponsors to increase the kitty to £100,000.
The refusal of the initial £50,000 does not spell the end for the money however as councillors said it would be discussed during budget-setting proposals later this year.
The report, by consultants Artservice was read by the city council’s place and economic development subcommittee at a meeting on Monday (October 22), and it set out the key aims of the art strategy including promoting the city as modern and progressive whilst boosting tourism and the economy and celebrating the city’s famous heritage.
Cllr Joy Squires said: “It is great that we have got a strategy now for art in public spaces.
“I think the thing I am wanting to know is how this actually links with other things that are going on in other places of the council.
“I might just like a little more clarity about how this joins up so it can give it a bit more ‘oomph’.”
In recent years, public art in the city has most often been created through independent initiatives by artists or art groups or by money handed over to the council by developers to pay for community and social infrastructure – better known as section 106 agreements.
For example, if a housing estate was built by a developer, city planners would ask for a piece of artwork to be included in the plans before granting permission.