PUBLIC ART: DEVELOPMENT IN THE CITY
[Interim Report written in March 1989]
In June 1988 the City Council adopted a series of resolutions concerning
Art in Public Places.
A negotiation of a funding package between Council Departments, the Regional
Arts Association and the Arts Council of Great Britain was concluded last
Following these negotiations a post of Public Art Development Officer
on secondment from the organisation Public Arts was created and organised
to work from the Urban Design and Conservation Section of the Department
of Land and Planning. The postholder, Mr Paul Swales, commenced work in
This is an interim report prepared for the funding partners and for the
wider audience of committees and bodies who have shown a particular interest
in the issues raised by Art in Public Places.
- POLICY DEVELOPMENT
In May last year the Council gained national recognition through its
adoption of the principle of Percent for Art as a mechanism for ensuring
a city-wide programme of Art in Public Places. The Public Art Development
Officer has the remit to develop the practicalities of implementation.
As a major first step towards this, the following statement has been
drafted for inclusion in appropriate substantial planning briefs and
to be used for general guidance.
The Planning and Transportation Programme Committee has endorsed
the principal of a "Percent for Art" to encourage new works of art
in public places as part of substantial developments. In determining
an application for planning permission, the contribution made by any
such works to the appearance of the scheme and to the amenities of
the area will be considered.
- As far as it is known, this Authority is unique in having
a declaration of policy at such an early stage of the planning process.
- The Sheffield Development Corporation has expressed interest
in using a Percent for Art policy in the Lower Don Valley, as well
as commissioning work.
- Discussions have also taken place with Area Plans concerning
The Cultural Industries Quarter and the role public art has in giving
the area a unique identity.
- The City Centre Action Programme Working Group has provided
the opportunity to consider a City Centre framework for public art.
- The criteria for selecting sites includes promoting civic
pride and a city identity, sites that would benefit from enhancement,
sites of historic significance and sites that mark particular routes
- Public art in this context is not seen as just sculpture,
but also as paving designs, street furniture, mosaics, wall reliefs,
railings, water features and maintainable murals for subways.
- The operation of the above has elicited keen interest
from other authorities, notably Plymouth, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh,
Newport, Salford and Leeds.
- CURRENT PROJECTS
- The World Student Games provide a major opportunity to
promote a new identity for the city and enhance particular sites
and views of the city.
Commissions have been proposed for a mosaic, a wall relief and gates
for the main entrance and the flame for the Don Valley Athletics
Stadium. For Ponds Forge stained glass, a decorative floor for the
foyer, a neon sculpture for the roof, railings for the new pedestrian
bridge and a sculpture to be sited with the Ponds Forge Arch have
A national competition will be held to produce a short-list of artists
for the commissions. The artists will be paid a fee to produce maquettes,
models and drawings to be used for the final selection and public
The competition including advertisements, artists fees, exhibition
and selection expenses will cost £20,000. At present this money
is being sought through existing budgets and sponsorship.
The commissions should enhance the individual sites, celebrate the
internationalism of the games, provide connections with the past
and celebrate the individual sports themselves.
Commissions for the Arena Velodrome are being considered by the
- The positive contribution public art can make to Tudor
Square has been detailed in the design brief for the architects.
The brief also included ideas about celebrating the multi-cultural
aspects of the World Student Games, as well as a major sculpture
commission as part of the cultural facilities in the square and
a mosaic pavement to link the two theatres.
- Other developments where commissions are being considered
are the Canal Basin, Meadowhall, the Passenger Interchange, Kelham
Island and the Esso Motel, Parkway.
- Discussions have taken place with British Rail and recommendations
for public art will form part of a report suggesting improvements
to the Midland Station for the World Student Games.
- Two small projects have been initiated to produce an entrance
mural for the Tinsley subways involving a local school and a design
is being commissioned for the Kelvin improvement scheme. This will
require an artist working with the tenants group to produce an exciting
design for a stair tower.
- Two city centre schemes that will be considered for public
art contributions are the Broad Street and Cambridge Street developments.
Unfortunately the Percent for Art policy was not available for inclusion
in the planning briefs.
The post is breaking new ground. There is obviously still much ground
work and advocacy to be accomplished in this area which is new, both
to the Authority and in some respects the private sector. Crucially
notions of art as embellishment or decoration added on ("the icing on
the cake") are being challenged. Art is being added in at an early stage
not on at too late a stage of a project. Using normal planning procedure
holds by far the best promise for future success. It will be appreciated
that the 'fast track' timescale of much of the facilities building for
1991 create a very difficult framework. The commitment to a public art
presence enhancing these facilities needs to be progressed from just
verbal acknowledgement and actioned - otherwise these crucial opportunities
will be lost.
- That the various proposals for the World Student Games
sites be noted and approved as the most appropriate schemes and
that as a matter of urgency the funding basis for the schemes be
established with the programme controllers and phased into the building
- That approval be given to the inclusion of public art
commissions as a vital part of environmental improvement schemes
for the city centre. They should be identifiable as an ingredient
of any proposals for future schemes and should accordingly be built
into the budgetary process of costing the schemes.
- That approval be given to the inclusion in all future
appropriate planning briefs of the Policy Statement set out above
(see 1) and consideration be given to the use of public art in future
area improvement plans.
| David Alston,
Deputy Director of Arts
| Paul Swales,
Public Art Development Officer
| March 1989
[This document is reproduced by kind permission of Sheffield City Council.]
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