City draws up public art policy

Ever wonder how Penticton’s public art installments are selected? The city now has a public art policy, endorsed by city council in a 4-2 vote on Monday, which will soon be posted on its website.

  • Feb. 10, 2011 7:00 p.m.

Ever wonder how Penticton’s public art installments are selected?

The city now has a public art policy, endorsed by city council in a 4-2 vote on Monday, which will soon be posted on its website.

According to the city’s recreation manager Dave Lieskovsky, the new policy will provide guidelines to assist the community in the overall management of public art assets, including acquisition protocols, selection processes and maintenance procedures.

“Over the years Penticton has accepted and supported numerous public art projects and in most cases, the review process has been challenging,” Lieskovsky reported.

“Cities with strong public art policies are able to both protect current installations as well as recognize future opportunities to engage artists and the public in cultural activities.”

Using a grant from the Union of B.C. Municipalities, the city hired a consultant to research and draft a public arts policy, incorporating best practices from previous city rules and other municipalities, while consulting experts and community stakeholders, Lieskovsky said. A public consultation was also conducted, including two separate meetings with the heritage arts and culture advisory committee.

Lieskovsky said the new policy will “provide a fair, equitable selection process for the acquisition and installation of public art; ensure that through its selection process, qualified artists provide a variety of arts and cultural expressions that are compatible with development aspirations; encourage community members to participate in developing the resources of public art to reflect the diverse cultural nature of the city; and demonstrate through public art projects a sense of pride and ownership of art and cultural expression in the community.”

Only Councillors Dan Albas and John Vassilaki voted against endorsing the policy, although both were clear that they supported public art.

Albas said he found the rules for private citizens or organizations wishing to donate artworks “process intensive,” worrying that all the paperwork might keep them from contributing.

Vassilaki is concerned the policy does not include details regarding the funding of public art.

“In the past, we had a policy where one per cent of all cost going to any city project would go into the arts, and from that the city would be purchasing art objects which we can put all over the city,” said Vassilaki. “That, for some strange reason, got left out for the past four to five years and we haven’t been putting any funds into the kitty for public art. So that is my main concern.”

But Lieskovsky said the committee, after some debate, decided it would be best to keep the acquisition and maintenance policy separate from the funding one.

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