PUBLIC ART IN THAMESDOWN
The following document is a committee report on the structure within Thamesdown
Borough Council to facilitate a Public Arts Policy.
This document comes from an Information Pack supplied by the Public Arts
Unit at Thamesdown Borough Council (to be renamed Swindon Borough Council
in April 1997) It is reprinted by kind permission of Thamesdown Borough
To: The Chair and Members of the Arts Sub-Committee of the Arts and Recreation
Committee [For consideration at a meeting on 1st June 1988]
A STRUCTURE WITHIN THAMESDOWN TO FACILITATE A PUBLIC ARTS POLICY
Terry Court, Arts Officer and Richard Emery, Development and Project Manager
- At the last meeting of the Arts Sub-Committee the comprehensive
report 'Art in the Urban Environment” was presented and discussed.
Copies of this report have now been sent to certain Senior Officers
in Thamesdown’s Planning and Project Development departments and
the resolutions from the debate passed to the Planning Committee,
Development Sub-Committee and Policy and Resources Committee.
- It is now necessary to describe a structure that would enable
this proposed policy and its aims to operate within the Council.
A recommendation can then be made to the appropriate Committees
to adopt a procedure for considering the benefits of a Public Arts
Policy within development and redevelopment, both private and public
sector at the appropriate time.
- Aims and Method
- The general aim is to achieve, wherever possible, a ‘percent for
art’ within new developments and improvement schemes. In a similar
way to a number of other local authorities in the UK, notably Lewisham
- Over the past few years the Arts Division working with other
divisions of the Borough Council, particularly Landscape, have come
together on certain schemes that have produced some very encouraging
results:- The Blondinis at Wharf Green, the Milton Road Baths Mural,
White Horse Pacified and, in the near future, the large mural at
The Rec, Highworth, etc. Etc.
- The Arts Sub-Committee are fully aware of the benefits of such
a policy but perhaps it would be productive at this time if we invited
other Senior Officers and Members of the Borough Council, who we
are now asking to support our beliefs, to a presentation of what
has already been achieved in the public arts field both in Thamesdown
- Involving artists/designers within development can be as simple
as introducing a more creative use of materials such as block work
or tiling, for instance the tiling of the Oasis Pool. It can also
mean major environmental work including sculptures, mosaics, etc.
- Whatever, the aim is to enhance the area and produce a more stimulating,
- The time to consider the involvement of artists, crafts people
and designers in schemes is at a very early stage in the planning
consultation period in the same way as landscaping.
- If the Council accepts and adopts a public arts policy then it
would have to resolve that responsible officers should give adequate
thought to the policy at the early planning stage.
- It is suggested that, although the principles of percentage for
art and planning gain should be adopted by the Council, a position
of advocacy would be the most productive way of approaching private
sector developers. Any involvement in a contribution to the Public
Arts Policy from a private developer would have to be voluntarily
given. The Council could not demand or require any contribution.
- Through setting an example and demonstration it should be possible
to prove that this policy would be of mutual benefit. Often the
reasons why it does not happen, I believe, is lack of awareness
of what is achievable.
- However, we cannot expect to induce private developers to accept
a public arts policy/percentage for art if Thamesdown itself does
not put such provisions into practice within its own developments
and improvement schemes.
- One of the main recommendations of the ‘Public Arts’ report was
the setting up of a ‘Public Arts Unit’. I do not believe this is
possible, practical or appropriate in exactly the way it was described.
- Over the past four years the development of art in public places
has been centred on the work of the Visual Arts and Crafts Officer,
- It is recommended that the continued initiative for the expansion
of the proposed public arts policy continues to be based in the
visual arts area of Thamesdown Community Arts and that the Visual
Arts Officer’s responsibilities are extended to recognise this role
within Thamesdown and the post be redesignated Public Arts Officer.
- The Jolliffe Studio can remain the central base for the administrative
- If Officers at the sharp end of planning have a brief to give
consideration to a public arts policy at an early stage of proposed
developments and improvement schemes, the Public Arts Officer should
be brought into the discussions at this point.
- Hopefully with a Council commitment as the basis of negotiation
supported by imaginative proposals the philosophy and reality of
the Arts being integrated in to the urban environment will expand.
- That it be recommended to the Policy and Resources committee
that in future development, redevelopment for improvement schemes
carried out by the Borough Council, proper consideration is given
at an early stage of planning to a percentage of the overall cost
of the development being made available for the arts.
- That it be recommended to the Policy and Resources Committee
that in similar schemes carried out by the private sector the officers
should advocate the benefits of the Public Arts Policy and seek
to obtain an involvement in and/or contributions from developers
for the arts.
- That the Public Arts Officer or the Arts Officer be consulted
at an early stage in the schemes referred to in a) and b) above.
- That it be recommended to the Policy and Resources Committee
that the Arts Officer arrange a presentation, for all members and
senior officers, of the Public Arts.
- That, if the Policy and Resources Committee agree the recommendations
in a), b) and d) above the Development Sub-Committee and all Standing
Committees be informed of these decisions.
- That it be recommended to the Personnel Sub-Committee of the
Policy and Resources Committee that the duties and responsibilities
of the Visual Arts Officer be extended to encompass the proposed
Public Arts Policy and the designation of the post be changed to
Public Arts Officer.
23rd May 1988
Planning Committe Response to the Above
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