Public Art Research Archive, Sheffield Hallam University, UK


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 Council.

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]


  1. Background
    1. 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.
    2. 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.

  2. Aims and Method
    1. 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 and Edinburgh.
    2. 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.
    3. 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 and elsewhere.
    4. 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.
    5. Whatever, the aim is to enhance the area and produce a more stimulating, quality development.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.

  3. Responsibility
    1. 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.
    2. 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, Alastair Snow.
    3. 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.
    4. The Jolliffe Studio can remain the central base for the administrative support.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

  4. Recommendations
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

Terry Court, Arts Officer and Richard Emery, Development and Project Manager
23rd May 1988

Planning Committe Response to the Above

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