Public Art Research Archive, Sheffield Hallam University, UK



In May, 1988, the City Council formally adopted the policy of public art in the City.

To support this policy the Arts Department sought to establish the post of Public Art Development Officer.

In response to this objective, three Departments joined with the Arts Department to commit funding to the establishment of this post. These Departments were: Design and Building Services, Land and Planning and Works.

With the core funding for this post established, the Arts Department was then able to secure funding from both the Arts Council of Great Britain and the Yorkshire Arts Association. A total budget of £27,500 was thus secured for the first year of operation (SCC: £10,000; ACGB: £10,000; YAA: £7,500). The pilot post was to run for three years, with a review at 18 months, with the commitment of the funding partners.

As the post was an experiment - the first of its kind in the United Kingdom - it was agreed that the formal employer should be the regional public art development agency ĎPublic Artsí, rather than the City Council.

Following public advertisement, Public Arts appointed Paul Swales as Public Art Development Officer for Sheffield; Paul was seconded to work for the City within the Department of Land and Planning. He commenced work in November, 1988.

In the seventeen months that Paul has worked within the City much has been achieved. In addition the experience has been of immense value in putting a policy for Public Art into practice within a large northern city. Much has been learned from this experience.

The following are the key achievements of this period.
  • A statement relating to Public Art is now included in substantial planning briefs, area plans, and the Unitary Development Plan.

  • The following projects have been developed within the City Council:
    - Lower Don Stadium: main gate by Hilary Cartmel and students of Wisewood Middlewood School;
    - Lower Don Stadium: main entrance road by Joanna Veevers;
    - Lyceum Theatre: four storey stained glass window by Catrin Jones;
    - New Town Hall: glass frieze to new enquiry centre by Amber Hiscott;
    - Tudor Square: paving scheme by Paul Mason;
    - Kelvin Flats: stair tower painting (involving the local community);
    - Park Hill: environmental improvements;
    - Tinsley Subway: mural (involving the local community);
    - Supertram: preliminary work;
    - Earl Street: footbridge.
  • The following developments undertaken by the private sector will include a Public Art element:
    - Cambridge Street;
    - Moorfoot;
    - Esso/Granada at Parkway;
    - Crystal Peaks;
    - Union Street.
  • Close liaison has been established with the Sheffield Development Corporation, who are now developing a number of proposals of their own relating to Public Art.

  • Sheffield has been identified as a front runner in the implementation of a Public Art policy within the local authority context. In addition to receiving numerous invitations to conferences and seminars, Paul Swales assisted the following authorities with advice: Plymouth, Bristol, Salford, Leeds, Brighton, Newport, Manchester, Kirklees, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Sunderland and three London Boroughs.
As the attached extract from ĎThe Public Art Reportí (1989) demonstrates, Sheffield now occupies a leading position in the field of Public Art.

In January, 1990, Paul Swales accepted an offer to work in the private sector; he will be leaving Sheffield in the middle of April, 1990.

Now therefore is the moment not only to consolidate Paulís achievements to date, but also to move Public Art into its next phase of development within Sheffield.

There can be no doubt that the post of Public Art Development Officer within the City has been successful, that the co-funding mechanism has been satisfactory, and that the location of this post with Land and Planning has worked well.

It is therefore proposed that a permanent appointment be made to a post to be designated Public Art Officer, employed directly by the City Council in place of the external agency Public Arts.

It is anticipated that a permanent appointment will create greater continuity, whereas another short-term appointment would be prey to external offers.

The Arts Council and Yorkshire Arts Association are supportive of this proposal, and have indicated that they will contribute seed funding in order to secure the post within the City Council. This funding would taper over an agreed period of years.

It is suggested that within the City Council, the Departments funding the post to date, agree to do so on a permanent basis with an annual increase to cover wage inflation. These Departments would be Arts, Design and Building Services, Land and Planning and Works.

By common consent the post is best sited as a team member of the UDC Section of the Department of Land and Planning. The attached draft job description is an outline to be refined in consultation with the Department of Land and Planning, who now have the best working understanding of this post.

One of the principal lessons from the past months has been the need for a small pool of money with which to fund competitions and models. These are the most effective way of capturing the attention of those most likely to develop Public Art projects in both the private and public sectors.

It is therefore proposed that negotiations take place with the Department of Land and Planning, which already has a small budget for conservation work, and that a similar budget within the range of £25,000 to £50,000 per annum be established to stimulate Public Art commissions within the City. This proposal is put forward in the most recent % for Art paper, which sets out the mechanism for the operation of Percent for Art and is currently being submitted for approval by all the Councilís major committees.

The following recommendations are proposed:
  1. that the post of Public Art Officer be established by the City Council;
  2. that this post be equally funded by the following Departments: Arts, Design and Building Services, Land and Planning, and Works;
  3. that the attached job description forms the basis of that for this new post;
  4. that the post be located within the Department of Land and Planning;
  5. that discussions take place with the Arts Council and the Yorkshire Arts Association to fund this post;
  6. that discussions take place with the Department of Land and Planning to establish a revenue budget to facilitate Public Art development.

David Patmore
Director of Arts
9th April, 1990

Return to public art documents page

sheffield other locations pmsa documents links
search homepage

This page maintained by Simon Quinn
Slide Collection, Learning and IT Services
Last updated 24 August, 2005