A 'PERCENTAGE FOR ART SCHEME' IN THE CITY OF SHEFFIELD Document written
by David Alston, Deputy Director of Arts, Sheffield City Council, 20th
- 1.1 Art in Public Places in Sheffield stands in need of reappraisal.
The City has a history in this area but it is by no means a prevalent
or vital ingredient of the cityscape. The City’s outlook is not circumscribed
by formal nineteenth century statuary in civic squares (such as one
finds in Liverpool) but equally twentieth century initiatives and contemporary
commissioning are just as piecemeal. The idea of a Percentage for Art
scheme adopted by a major city like Sheffield would provide the impetus
to increase initiatives for public art. A Percentage for Art scheme
would provide the framework for incorporating art-commissions into all
appropriate new developments, buildings, renovations, environmental
improvement schemes and public space developments.
- 1.2 Adoption of the principle of a Percentage for Art scheme by the
City Council would be an appropriate initiative on two major counts:
- (a) Whatever the current capital spending position of the Authority,
its aspirations and potential remain the broadest for the City's
environment. It is the custodian of the fine public Spaces of which
Sheffield is justly proud and it is the co-ordinator of the lay
out and future of the City in respect of the Central District Urban
Plan or such major undertakings as the Lower Don Valley schemes.
- (b) Operation of a Percentage for Art scheme would be an extension
into the area of the arts of a local government initiative of national
bearing - a "building from the bottom" approach such as Sheffield
has sought to pioneer in the field of its practice in relation to
the local economy, social services, education, etc.
- 1.3 A Percentage for Art scheme represents a quite modest reappraisal
of the way any appropriate capital project might incorporate an input
from the arts to enormous effect. This proposal sets out the reasons
and background information to promote the adoption by the City Council
of the principle of a Percentage for Art scheme.
2. WHAT IS 'PERCENTAGE FOR ART'?
- 2.1 A Percentage for Art scheme would be a policy commitment in respect
of appropriate capital schemes. The idea is that in order to foster
and promote the collaboration between art and the environment, between
art and architecture, between art and the people, the Authority devises
a scheme which ensures that whenever a new public building, place or
space is built, created or developed a percentage of the overall cost
of the scheme is required by this policy commitment to be spent on art
for the public benefit.
3. WHY ADOPT A 'PERCENTAGE FOR ART' SCHEME?
There are a whole range of interlocking benefits to the community to be
considered here under some main headings:
- 3.1 Improvement of the City Environment
An art content will humanise, imaginatively stimulate, enhance, invite
participation, promote creative involvement with the environment, providing
a medium of expression by the community in relation to its own identity.
- 3.2 The Local Authority Acts as a Visible Patron of the Arts
This increases the opportunity for the appreciation of public places,
enhances civic awareness and community identity. It can act through
its patronage as a stimulus to orientating artistic concerns on a broad
front. Patronage is a determining factor of artistic production. The
Authority can establish an identity in this area to envisage a renewed
relationship between art and society.. Currently Central Government
is doing little to support such initiatives, setting little store in
fostering cultural vitality and neglecting its potential in the public
- 3.3 Tapping Resources
Whole areas of creative resources within society are given a context
by the scheme. There are increased employment opportunities, new challenges
for artists and crafts people, but also for the young and/or unemployed
in community schemes. It should be recognised within the City that a
great number of artists have a potential contribution to make.
- 3.4 Improving the Area of Cultural Debate
The scheme has educational features, it breaks down barriers between
contemporary art practice and its perception by the people. Art becomes
an area of interaction. It becomes less of a separate area of people's
lives, more integral to everyday concerns and environment.
4. PERCENTAGE FOR ART - A SHORT HISTORY
There are precedents for the scheme for in the absence of private patronage,
many countries, states and local authorities have assumed a responsibility
for promoting and advancing the arts.
- 4.1 The International Picture
1964 saw 'The One Percent to the People' schemes introduced. By
1976 200 works had been created for the benefit of 104 communities.
There are two schemes, the 1% and the 1.5%. The 1.5% law requires
that percentage of the cost of construction of new public buildings
be allocated for the commissioning of works of art.
An informal 1% rule applies in all towns.
- West Germany
A sliding scale (0.5 - 2%) must be allocated from new building costs.
Percentage for art legislation has been enacted in 21 states, 36
cities/counties, and has been introduced for consideration in a
number of others. The 'shining example' is perhaps Seattle where
a 'percentage for art' programme has operated for twelve years.
Over this period an estimated 550 artists have created works for
- 4. 2 Percentage for Art in the United Kingdom.
The general proposal for a percentage for art scheme was first officially
advocated in this country by the Labour Party's document on the. Arts
in 1977. In 1981 the Arts Council established its Art in Public Places
Programme. The GLC agreed in January, 1984, in principle for a percentage
for art scheme to be introduced in 1985. Its last policy document in
relation to the development of the South Bank shows the potential benefits.
The County of South Glamorgan and the Borough of Lewisham have also
agreed in principle to adopt percentage For art schemes. At present
no major Authority of the status of Sheffield has adopted a scheme.
Adoption of the scheme would make Sheffield therefore a lead Authority
in this field, undoubtedly paving the way for further development. The
National Executive of the Labour Party are currently considering bringing
a proposal forward for adoption as policy.
5. FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS
- 5.1 A Percentage for Art scheme does not mean more capital spending
provision. It would operate within current or future capital allocations.
- 5.2 It does mean a corporate position on the reappraisal of the application
of capital monies in appropriate schemes (There are numerous examples
of the operation of the percentage scheme where the planning of artistic
involvement is integrated rather than applied as "icing on the cake"
with the result that money is not sought extra to a budget but is part
of the initial capital sum)
- 5.3 Monies identified under this proposal will be regarded as an
integral part of the Funding of the project and administered accordingly.
This action to be achieved by the allocation of at least 1% of the estimated
costs of capital projects to works of art associated with the project
- 5.4 In certain. circumstances it will be possible for the Authority
to attract additional funds for the provision or art works, through
the Arts Council, the Regional Arts Association, EEC monies and sponsorship
from the private sector.
6. SUMMARY and RECOMMENDATIONS
Sheffield acting as a lead Authority in adopting a Percentage for Art scheme
would make a substantial contribution to urban enhancement and regeneration.
The Scheme is of benefit socially, culturally, educationally, environmentally
and would have national impact.
It is therefore proposed that:
- 6.1 That this report be submitted to all the relevant Programme Committees
and policy groups of the City Council to obtain corporate assent.
- 6.2 That the City Council thus considers adoption of the principle
of a Percentage For Art scheme
- 6.3 That the Public Arts Programme Working Party, established by
the Libraries and Arts- Programme Committee, advise the City Council
and its Departments on the implementation and workings of the policy.
Deputy Director of Arts
20th June, 1986