Hutt City Public Art Research Report
This research was conducted as part of Hutt City Council’s Public Art Policy development and Public Art Advisory Group establishment process.
The aims of this research were to:
a. Learn how public art is currently operating in Hutt City;
b. Identify opportunities and gaps in public art in Hutt City; and
c. Hear stakeholders’ vision for public art at Hutt City.
On 2 August 2016 Council agreed:
(i) to approve the final Arts and Culture Policy
(ii) to the development of an implementation plan for the Arts and Culture Policy 2016-2021;
(iii) to the establishment of a Public Art Advisory Group following the 2016 triennial elections;
(iv) that the Public Art Advisory Group be appointed by the Councillor appointed to the Arts Portfolio and the Chair of the Policy and Regulatory Committee following the 2016 triennial elections;
(v) to consider recommendations from the Public Art Advisory Group regarding the level of specific funding The Dowse Art Museum will receive as an increase to its operational budget to oversee the maintenance work required for public art works during the 2017 Annual Plan process;
(vi) to the development of a Public Art Policy and Guidelines by the Public Art Advisory Group; and
(vii) directed officers to proceed with the work to establish a Public Art Advisory Group.
This research report informs the next step in this process. It builds on public consultation undertaken in 2016 for the development of Hutt City’s Arts and Culture Policy. In this earlier consultation, workshop participants identified several issues of concern to them about the city: a lack of pride caused by poor urban design and being rundown; poor urban form; residents leaving the Hutt to go to Wellington for their arts and culture; low population growth; and a lack of vibrancy and attractiveness to those outside the region who might visit or move here.
The Arts and Culture Policy noted:
- The lack of a strategic programme approach to public art.
- The lack of Māori representation in public art in the city;
- The lack of specialised dedicated public art expertise within Council
- Limited funds available for Public Art
- Procurement issues in public art and
- Asset management issues
The report identifies how public art currently works in Hutt City, the stakeholder’s vision for the future of public art at Hutt City and areas for improvement.
Twenty-eight one-on-one interviews and two two-on-one interviews with Council Officers and external stakeholders were undertaken for the development of this report. A workshop with artists interested in working in Hutt City and a cross-iwi hui, which was hosted by Waiwhetu Marae, were also held.
Participants were asked if they would share their views on how public art is currently working in Hutt City: what’s working well, what could be improved, and what they would like to see happening in the future.
Aaron Marsh (Parks Assets Manager); Allen Yip (Manager Strategic Projects); Kelly Crandle (Parks and Gardens Reserves Planner); Ian Pike (E Tu Awa Kairangi); Greg Thomas (E Tu); Allan Brown (E Tu); Desiree Mulligan (E Tu); Mark Amery (Manager, Letting Space); Matt Reid (GM Community Services); Carla Steed (Events); Kyle Joseph (Former Business Operations Manager, The Dowse); Craig Cottrill (Reserves Asset Manager); Chris Close (Projects Manager Parks and Gardens); Murray Hewitt (Artist and Exhibitions Preparator, The Dowse); Gerda Nana (Exhibitions and Projects Manager, The Dowse); Margaret Willard (Former Councillor); Brad Monaghan (Manager City Promotions); Gary Craig (City and Community Development Manager); Eve Armstrong (Wellington City Council Public Art Manager); Bruce Hodgins(Divisional Manager, Parks and Gardens); Paki Maaka (Urban Design Manager); John Gloag (Division Manager Road and Traffic); Peter Healy (General Manager, Community Facilities Trust); Pippa Sanderson (Community Art Advisor); Stephen Keatley (Community Facilities Manager); Lesley Slieker (Manager, Taita Sport & Recreation Centre); Courtney Johnston (Director, The Dowse); Cyndi Christensen (CBD Development Manager); Bronwyn Holloway-Smith (Artist); Sue Elliot (Chair Wellington Sculpture Trust); Maria O’Toole and Cath Haley (Artists).
1. Good public art is a necessary part of making Hutt City “a great place to live, work and play”.
2. There is unanimous support and/or enthusiasm for public art along with a strong sense that more should be happening in this area in Hutt City. The value of public art was widely recognised by Officers at all levels, who understood that public art can add value to both their projects and to the city generally. Public art was widely understood as having an excellent cost-to-value ratio.
3. There was general support for setting aside or using funds from existing budgets for public art, either through a percent for art mechanism, or by integrating artworks into existing public works projects.
4. Overall there was a sense that council does not currently have the capacity to manage the public art activity that will be required in the coming years to complement and enhance the city’s rejuvenation. This is particularly so in relation to Making Places and the Riverlink Project, which were widely identified as requiring the development of high quality public artworks. There was a sense that a review of, and changes in, how public art is delivered at Hutt City is both necessary and timely.
“If our CBD had well-renowned public art, it would make it more attractive for people to be there, and developers will follow where the people are.”
“Public art, in terms of what it can do for civic pride, is huge.”
Smiling Windmills, Leon van Den Eijkel, Avalon Park.
Context: positive initiatives in a challenging context
Before focussing on the issues in public art at Hutt City, we would like to acknowledge the efforts currently being made to produce public art in a context in which no expert advice, centralised coordination, plan or policy, or dedicated funds are available. Our analysis of the current situation in regards to public art at Hutt City Council shows a tremendous amount of support for public art and a high understanding of its value. Several initiatives have been implemented to try to get more public art happening in the city, with varying degrees of success. Officers are keen to make public art happen, and proposals for public art projects emerge regularly from various departments, despite there currently being nowhere for these proposals to go for assessment and development.
Council’s Community Arts Advisor has been called on to fill a public art role as well as a community art role. She has worked on delivering several public art works, including those in this year’s festival of temporary public art, Common Ground. Common Ground features public art works by local and Wellington artists. The Community Arts Advisor contracted consultancy firm Letting Space to deliver the programme. It still involved significant amount of her time and effort, however, and a large portion of the Community Arts budget. As such, the Community Arts Advisor feels her public art work has come at the cost of her Community Arts work.
Public art is a different field from community art. Public art is produced by professional artists, while community art is produced by members of the community. The aims and processes of these disciplines are quite different. Community art is a grass-roots operation, seeking to help members of the community grow and express themselves through involvement in art activities. Public art operates at the other end of the spectrum, involving the commissioning of quality works by recognised professional artists. It contributes something different to the community: it is aspirational, iconic, inspiring, and thought-provoking. It helps create more tolerant communities by introducing people to different ways of thinking, revitalises cityscapes, and generates a sense of pride. Because they are different fields, the Community Arts Advisor states she has felt out of her depth at times when asked to fulfil a public art role.
Officers in City and Community Development and Strategic Services have been planning to bring more art into the CBD with an initiative called “Art in The City”. They have identified an urgent need for art to revitalise some of the central city’s more rundown areas, to support private developments and improvements. They currently have a mural in development to cover the old Raine and Horne real estate sign on Laing’s Road. The City Development Manager also operates an initiative called About Space, where artists and start-ups are brokered access to vacant shops in the CBD. Artist uptake has mostly been limited to amateur artists so far, and recently there has been some difficulty finding suitable projects, but there is potential to extend and develop this initiative into a platform for professional art, if public art expertise is brought on board.
Making Places also incorporates plans for public art. Eight potential sites for art in the CBD were identified in the 2007 plan. Sites and other forms of artist engagement are currently in the early stages of being identified for the Riverlink development. Artists may contribute to the design of a variety of elements of the Riverlink development, from paving to planting and even aspects of the infrastructure, as well as contributing freestanding sculptures. These possibilities are still to be explored in detail, but the importance of the involvement of public art in this major project has been recognised. There is, however, currently no delivery mechanism for these works outside E Tu Awa Kairangi, Hutt City’s Public Art Trust, which has limited capacity.
E Tu Awa Kairangi is an important part of Hutt City’s public art activity. The Trust, which was initiated in 2007 and is supported with a $50,000 per annum Council grant, has developed or funded several artworks, including Leon van den Eijkel’s Smiling Windmills at Avalon Park, and Lightwing by Andrew Thomas for the Seaview Roundabout, which is due to be installed this year. They recently unveiled a work at Hutt Hospital and several works at Waiwhetu Stream. The Trust is a strong source of advocacy for public art in the community, and have been successful at gaining sponsorship in kind to cover installation costs, though finding funds through sponsorship has proved more difficult. Limited project management and fundraising capacities restricts their scope, however. They would benefit from a closer relationship with Council via a dedicated Council Officer, who could work with them to develop a strategic programme approach for the city.
Although specialised maintenance is not being done and several works are in very poor repair, there is good work being done in public art maintenance in the Parks and Gardens Department. Parks and Gardens have adopted several recent works into their budgets and are administering maintenance plans for them. They also conduct routine maintenance on several works where this work fits within their parks maintenance regimes, such as water blasting sculptures when the surrounding paving is water blasted.
The officers and external stakeholders undertaking these initiatives report significant challenges, gaps and opportunities in Hutt City’s public art activities and assets. Clearly, these initiatives are commendable in a challenging context.
Issues, gaps and opportunities
Our interviews with officers and key external stakeholders, and research into council’s current public art processes, identified the following issues, gaps and opportunities in Hutt City’s current approach to public art:
- a lack of a strategic programme approach to public art.
- a lack of Māori representation and consultation in public art in the city
- a lack of specialised dedicated public art expertise within Council, leading to issues with public art procurement, planning and management;
- a lack of dedicated funds available for Public art; and
- asset management issues.
Lack of strategic programme approach
Currently, there is a lack of strategic direction in public art in Hutt City. There is no overall plan or strategy for public art which would allow it to deliver Council’s goals more effectively – particularly the goals focused on the rejuvenation of the city. At present, there is:
· no coordination of public art activities across council – non-expert officers work separately from each other to identify where and when public art should be commissioned;
· no city-wide plan identifying where public art development activity should be focussed, and what that activity should aim to achieve in those areas; and
· a lack of plans and processes to assist in prioritising potential public art sites and projects.
CBD Making Places 2030 identifies six potential sites as “areas for consideration” for public art, identifies two sites where an artwork is recommended, and develops an overall strategy for the CBD’s development. As such, it will provide a useful, if partial, framework for a future public art programme strategy. It is not itself public art strategy; it is a higher-level document that provides little detail around public art. It also refers only to freestanding sculpture, not integrated artworks, although it does mention digital technologies as well. In addition, Making Places focusses exclusively on the CBD, while a strategic plan for public art would, of course, need to incorporate the city as a whole. Public art activity in recent years has been focussed outside the CBD.
Hutt City’s public art activity is currently not considered as a whole programme. A programme approach to public art would consider the artworks the city already has and identify where further works are needed, and in what order projects should be developed. It would also identify when works should be decommissioned. The programme would be focussed on delivering what Council wants to achieve in the City; it would be targeted towards strategic goals that are specific to public art and link with the city’s strategic goals.
Public art projects need to be prioritised strategically across the city because major art projects can take years to develop and there is limited capacity to develop works. The E Tu Awa Kairangi Trust, which is currently Council’s sole delivery mechanism for freestanding permanent public art, say their capacity is limited due to member’s limited availability, a shortage of project management skills available to them, and by their limited access to funds (due to difficulties encountered in fundraising). These limitations mean they are capable of delivering about 1-2 projects at a time.
Having a programme approach and a city-wide strategy and plan for public art spending would mean that projects are evaluated against each other for their potential to deliver to council’s goals, so only the most effective projects are developed. This could allow significant positive changes to be delivered in Hutt City, via public art, for little or no extra funds.
· artworks not happening in the areas that would benefit most;
· works not being incorporated into developments in a timely manner, which ultimately results in increased costs and reduced options; and
· artworks not being incorporated in developments where they could have been delivered for little or no extra funds, and/or where they would have delivered cost-saving benefits like graffiti protection.
“There is no overarching strategy for public art identifying who, why, where, when, how do we pay for it, how do we look after it, and decommissioning.”
“Public art here happens in a fractured way.”
“We are working in a framework of ‘there is not a framework’”
“Mechanisms to define what constitutes art, where it should be placed, scale and suitability to site are needed”
· A part-time Public Art Manager who:
o Develops a Public Art policy and guidelines
o Works across Council to ensure a coordinated and strategic approach with the appropriate level of quality;
o Works with E Tu Awa Kairangi, Hutt City’s Public Art Trust, to deliver a coherent whole-of-programme approach to public art that aligns with Council’s strategic aims and priorities, and
o Ensures the Trust is informed of opportunities for partnerships with Council and participation in major urban or hub development projects.
· The establishment of the Public Art Advisory Group
Play Modules, Anne Marie van Splunter, Dowse Square.
Case Study 1: Play Modules
Play Modules, a large work by the Dutch artist Anne Marie van Splunter, sits in Dowse square. It is one of Hutt City’s most successful, high-quality artworks, though it is currently in poor repair. It supports a variety of uses and users, with teenagers lounging or sitting in groups, older people relaxing and children of all ages playing in different ways. It delivers on Council’s vision to make the CBD a place to relax and meet friends (CBD Vision 2030), and it provides an excellent no-barrier introduction and “way in” to contemporary art and aesthetics for people who may not have previous experience in this area.
Unfortunately, though, there is a clash between this work’s occupation of the Square and the use of this space to stage large events, like the skating rink. When large events require the full use of the square, Play Modules needs to be removed and replaced by fork lift, at a cost of $5,000. The work was not designed to be removed and replaced regularly, and is actually designed to be shifted by crane, not forklift, which would be even more expensive. The forklift operation takes a full day, and damages the work because the modules have indentations designed for crane straps rather than forklift prongs.
Such clashes in site use need to be considered and planned for in public art commissions. Public art activities should be managed from a single central point and consultation done across relevant council departments to ensure that factors impacting on the artwork’s ongoing occupation of its site are planned and budgeted for.
Lack of Public Art Expertise
Hutt City’s art activities are not driven by experts with a strategic overview and knowledge of how to procure high quality artworks and curate a programme that delivers to council goals.
Public art in Hutt City can, and does, happen without any expert input. When expert advice is sought, the Community Arts Advisor and/or Dowse staff are asked to fulfil this role. However, relying on these sources for advice is problematic for several reasons:
· The Dowse does not have the staff resources available to advise on public art, and public art is outside their core business. They are not resourced to deliver public art advice and their resources are already stretched in delivering their core business.
· Dowse staff are specialised in exhibition development, which is a different field to public art.
· Expertise in community art is not the same as expertise in public art. Community art is a different field from public art: community art is art produced by amateur artists (members of the community), sometimes with the assistance of professionals. Public art is art produced by professional artists.
The lack of public art expertise in Hutt City Council also leads to technical and maintenance issues in public art commissions compounded by poor contracts that do not identify responsibilities and processes for durability and maintenance.
This has also led to compromises in development processes, which can result in low quality, cost and timeframe blowouts and ultimately a difficulty in getting professional artists on board.
Professional artists can be reluctant to participate in a public art programme that is not run by art experts. Artist’s careers are built on their reputation, and they are understandably reluctant to risk their reputation on projects that may compromise the artwork’s quality. They are also reluctant to participate where their expertise and status within the industry are not acknowledged. They will not allow their work to appear alongside amateur artist’s work unless it is clearly differentiated. They need to be sure that their work will not be interpreted or used in ways that compromise their reputation.
Expertise in public art, along with a sound gifting policy, would also allow council to assess and gracefully reject inappropriate gifts or proposals coming from the public.
The lack of availability of public art expertise within Council has led to a widespread understanding of public art as consisting solely of freestanding sculptures and murals, when in fact it can take many forms. Currently, public art activity in Hutt City is almost exclusively limited to permanent freestanding artworks (delivered by E Tu) and the temporary event-based works of the Common Ground festival.
- Projects that fail to be implemented due to poor quality;
- Officers making public art decisions even though they do not feel qualified to do so;
- Inconsistent quality in artworks;
- Professional artists unwilling to take advantage of opportunities offered and not participating in creative initiatives such as About Space;
- Difficulties in saying no to projects and artworks offered by members of the community, even if the quality is poor;
- Projects utilising project management processes and timeframes not well suited to working with artists, leading to compromises in quality;
- Technical issues with artworks purchased from Shapeshifter and permanently sited while not having been designed to permanently withstand conditions at that site, leading to extra ongoing costs;
- Missed opportunities to incorporate artworks into capital developments at little or no extra cost; and
- Commissioned works reflecting a narrow range of the full spectrum of contemporary public art practice.
“Personal tastes are coming into play: who makes the call, who makes the decision – it’s not clear”
“It’s important we in Parks and Gardens are not left to our own devices because we are not experts. I’m not sure who we would talk to [about commissioning a planned work for Riddiford Gardens], maybe we would go along to a staff meeting at the Dowse and hopefully someone would put their hand up”.
- A dedicated part-time Public Art Manager who has a high level of public art expertise, and who can advise across council on public art projects, identify opportunities, and ensure a coordinated approach.
- The establishment of the PAAG to, provide advice to council and E Tu on strategic direction and project selection, and work with the Public Art Manager to deliver a high quality, good value for money, public art programme.
- Incorporate a gifting policy into the public art policy.
Asset Management Issues
Currently, there is no coordinated approach to maintenance for public art in the city’s collection. Maintenance relies on the works being adopted into other budgets but there is no standard process to indicate when this should happen, and as a result, some works are not being maintained. No funding has been allocated to public art maintenance and it is unclear where accountability lies. There is no process to identify when work is required, and officers feel that they do not have the right expertise to decide if a work needs maintenance, or what to do if it does.
Two examples of works urgently requiring remedial maintenance include the Russel Clark work outside the Little Café, which has deteriorating concrete and rusty exposed substructure, and the Play Modules by Anne Marie Van Splunter (commonly known as the Snake) in Dowse Square, the surface of which is severely damaged and discoloured. These works are on prominent sites in the central city and it is damaging to the city’s image to have them appear in the dilapidated state they currently do.
Maintenance that is being done on public artworks owned by the city is that which fits within standard asset management maintenance processes, such as water blasting steel of concrete sculptures as part of wider parks maintenance. Maintenance that does not fit within standard processes is only being done if the works have maintenance plans, and have been adopted into Parks budgets.
There is no list of existing works identifying their position and condition. There are also no maintenance plans for most works not commissioned by E Tu Awa Kairangi.
A comprehensive condition reporting/assessment of existing works is required to identify works that need remedial maintenance, and which are being looked after well under current protocols.
If major maintenance is needed on specific works, they should be assessed to ascertain whether they should be kept or deaccessioned. This needs to be done by people with public art expertise and authority, as it can be controversial. The PAAG would be best placed to deal with this. A deaccessioning process and policy is required.
Initially it was proposed that a maintenance budget for public art be established and allocated to The Dowse. As our analysis has progressed it has become clear that this is not the best solution for public art maintenance because:
· The Dowse does not have the capacity – their staff are already overcommitted.
· The Dowse does not have the necessary expertise in house – they outsource their own conservation work
· The expertise that would be required would only be required intermittently and is thus better outsourced
· Some basic maintenance, such as water blasting to clean sculptures, is already being done adequately by Parks within existing budgets as part of general parks maintenance. If this basic maintenance was reallocated to a separate public art maintenance team, efficiencies would be lost. The maintenance work that Parks are not doing is the specialist maintenance, which needs to be outsourced anyway.
· Commission a condition report and 10year remedial maintenance plan from a conservator, incorporating all current works.
· Allocate overall responsibility for ensuring that public artworks are well maintained to the proposed internal Public Art Manager.
· Incorporate a deaccessioning policy within the new public art policy.
· Standard artist’s contracts which include a maintenance plan should be implemented for all council art commissions.
“If someone like me does the best they can for the works, it may not be the best for the works.”
“What happens if you see an artwork that needs work?” “If it’s dangerous, we would do it. If it was looking not great I wouldn’t do anything, because I wouldn’t keep in mind the integrity of the construction. We could be harming the work, so we don’t.”
Lack of Dedicated Public Art Funds
Funds earmarked for public art are currently being lost to other priorities. Public art is “always the first to go” when a project runs out of money. Public art is budgeted for in most capital developments and some events, but its funding is often cut when overruns in other areas need to be balanced. If public art is a line in the budget like all other items, it will very often be cut or drastically reduced in the development process.
Even if the budget does not run over, the public art component of a development project may not eventuate because it has been left too late so that its funding could be reserved in case it was needed elsewhere. This means the work can no longer be effectively integrated and it becomes an afterthought that no longer fits within the project development timeframe.
Even where incorporating art makes financial sense in the longer term, such as where it provides graffiti deterrence, it is sometimes being cut due to short term budget pressures.
· Very few significant public artworks;
· Developments where art has been cut, leaving bland public interfaces, empty spaces, and/or blank walls vulnerable to graffiti;
· The cutting of Māori artworks from CFT projects such as the Pou at Stokes Valley Hub
· Missed opportunities to develop local pride and identity;
· Artworks that will not be as well integrated into their sites as they could have been, because they have been left to be developed later;
· Extra costs when preparations such as providing power and structural reinforcement need to be put in place in case they may be required when the artwork is eventually commissioned; and
· Lost opportunities for artists to design aspects of projects that are required anyway, such as paving, glazing, wind shelters, etc., as artworks, for little or no extra cost.
“We haven’t been able to set aside anything for new art in the new gardens, but we know from talking to key stakeholders, people are really keen on it.”
In the Walter Nash stadium, $50k was spent on art, which “got local buy-in…improved the look of the building and improved resistance to graffiti – the building has not been hit. [These] artworks have produced a benefit to us. In the Naenae hub project, there are similar concrete tilt slabs, 4-5 metres tall, 10-15m2. There is no money in budget to treat them with art like at Nash. I don’t know what we are going to do about taggers.”
“If I was council, I would tag grants to CFT saying that a certain percentage of the grant needs to be spent on public art. If you don’t tag it practical things come first, and artwork doesn’t come last in the process – you have to make calls quite early on. You can’t just use leftover funds.”
“Nobody would be surprised if a percent for art scheme was implemented.”
“It would be really useful to have a bit of the budget set aside – 1 or 2% would be really good.”
“I have been here for five years and have seen a change from very little art activity to a lot. Not so much professional art though – the City are babies in that. We should be spending in this area.”
“We are investing $8m in the gardens, but there is not much budget for the arts. A solution – a line in the budget that says public art is required.”
That the following be investigated for possible implementation at Hutt City:
· Percent for art for external grants – attach conditions to Council Grants to CFT and others that require a certain percentage of the grant to be spent on art.
· Include art as part of development negotiations – if developers include art then certain concessions can be granted.
· A requirement for public art when external developments are being supported financially by council, e.g. the new four-star Hotel in the CBD.
· A percent for art policy for internal CAPEX expenditure on major developments. Include in the new public art policy that internal development projects over 1m need to set aside 2% for art. These funds would be allocated to the City’s public art budget, to be used to provide work for that development if appropriate, or for other areas of the city if there are other strategic priorities deemed more appropriate.
Percent for art was suggested independently by a range of senior and mid-level managers across the organisation.
Further, the public art policy can put into place processes that ensure public art can be initiated early in major projects so that it can be properly integrated.
Riddiford Gardens planned artwork site, identified by a red X.
Case Study 2: Riddiford Gardens Sculpture
In the Riddiford Gardens project, funds for art have been re-assigned to other aspects due to the project running over budget. In order to accommodate a future artwork, power has been supplied and the ground has been reinforced within the garden’s fountain in case a future artwork to be positioned there will require these, as to install them later would be more expensive. It would have been more cost effective to know what the artwork was going to be from the outset, and to only provide what the artwork requires. The artwork could itself have been a fountain, incorporating paving and fountain works and using the funds spent on those features, instead of requiring extra funds for a standalone work to be positioned inside the fountain.
Standalone works dropped into previously completed environments are not ideal. The artwork will need to fit in with the existing fountain, which has multiple spouts of water and paving in “a distinctive geometric design, laid out in a pattern”. The existing fountain significantly limits the possible form of the work and may distract from, or clash with, it. Ultimately these less than ideal circumstances will reduce the number of highly qualified artists interested in submitting proposals, which is also likely to lead to a reduction in quality.
Lack of visibility of Mana Whenua in Hutt City’s Public Art
Currently there is very little public art in Hutt City that increases the visibility of mana whenua. This was identified as a key issue in the public consultation undertaken for the Arts and Culture Policy in 2016.
Te Atiawa identify Māori art that is developed in consultation with them as an essential aspect of Hutt City’s public art programme, and an important part of their relationship with Council.
Ensuring this kind of representation takes place is also best practice in public art nationally and internationally.
We ran a pan-iwi workshop on public art at Waiwhetu Marae and the key feedback was that:
· representation of Māori in public art is important;
· that the other iwi present consider Te Atiawa as represented by Waiwhetu Marae to be the most appropriate point of consultation for Council in public art matters, and
· that Council needs to build a relationship with tangata whenua (Te Atiawa) in order to achieve representation of Māori in public art.
· Establish an appropriate contact point for tangata whenua and build an ongoing relationship around public art. The best person to build this relationship would be a dedicated Public Art Manager.
· Ensure the policy requires the inclusion of representation of tangata whenua in the public art programme.
Cross-Iwi Public Art Hui
We held a cross-iwi hui to hear local Māori views on public art. The Hui was hosted by Waiwhetu Marae. Attendees included representatives from Waiwhetu, Koraunui, Te Tatau o te Po and Te Kakano o te Aroha Marae. The hui was seen as a positive first step in an ongoing process of building a relationship with tangata whenua in relation to public art, which was considered necessary.
We asked attendees what they would like to see happening in public art in Hutt City and how Council could achieve better representation of Māori in the City’s public art. Participants felt that:
· Representing Māori in public art is Hutt City is important. The city’s public art forms should reflect and be about relationship of tangata whenua to the place.
· Going forward, Council should consult with primarily with tangata whenua through Waiwhetu Marae, rather than consulting across all Hutt iwi.
· The relationship between council and tangata whenua needs to be worked out: “What it comes down to is the relationship, and how you deal with tangata whenua – who you deal with – is key”.
· All participants agreed that Waiwhetu Marae is tangata whenua and should therefore be council’s main point of contact for public art consultation.
· It was felt an ongoing relationship needed to be developed rather than one-off consultation.
· Other maraes would come to tangata whenua about art projects they want.
· Rotorua is a good example of a city where public art that represents local Māori works well.
· Artworks should be traditional coming right through into modern – traditional works are a must but contemporary art is also important.
· It would be good to see works designed by young Māori.
· It would be great to see a commemoration to Te Whiti in Te Whiti park
· One participant felt that works representing other cultures, like Wellington’s Ghandi sculpture, could lead to dissatisfaction if there was not adequate representation of Māori.
· An issue to consider is the supply of materials for traditional works: Totara supply is tightly controlled and not available for traditional works, so they get made in less durable materials.
More consultation with Māori is needed to develop the public art policy. It was suggested by attendees at the hui that the next step in this consultation should be to attend the Tribal Council at Waiwhetu Marae.
We held a workshop for professional artists interested in working in Hutt City to hear their views and ideas about what could happen in public art at Hutt City, and what would be needed to make it happen. The workshop was advertised nationally on the Big Idea.
Participants: Ruth Robertson-Taylor; Anna Bailey; Birgit Bachler; Justine Walker; Walter Langelaar; Nic Lane; Erica Duthie; Julian Priest; and Dionne Ward.
We asked workshop participants their opinions on the following topics: how public art should be defined/what contemporary public art looks like; examples of successful public artworks or programmes; funding; planning; processes; ideas and gaps and opportunities. The group’s answers, which were fairly divergent on certain issues, are summarised below.
1. how public art should be defined/what contemporary public art looks like:
· art outside the gallery.
· Interactivity between technology and the public is an interesting realm for public art engagement and development.
· Public art definitions are broad.
· They would like to see decorative “happy” art as well as more serious works.
· Would like to see facilitated, curated collaboration.
· Non-public public art exists as well – public artworks that are no longer in public spaces.
2. Examples of successful public art works or programmes:
· Wellington’s evolving programme of light boxes (Courtenay Place)
· The Art Plinths next to Te Papa
· The Masons Screen in Masons Lane.
· Egmont St Lux festival
· Superflex – an example of infrastructure intervention.
· Artists should be paid to develop proposals.
· On major projects, even pre-qualification stages need to be funded. Months of work are required to develop proposals for major projects.
· Need to manage expectations around public art as something that can be delivered for free, with the benefit to the artist being ‘exposure’, as this is not realistic.
· Artists should have pay parity with other trades like plumbers, not earn less than a commercial painter would charge to paint the wall white.
· Funds should be tiered to match the artist’s level of professionalism/expertise.
· It is difficult to develop a programme for artworks without context or a tradition. A five-year trajectory is required, with a vision of the style of works and conceptual approach.
· Separation from elected officials through a public art panel is important.
· Designers should consider how to make spaces good for performers. Longer plan regarding how art events might be facilitated. It is not enough just to put a performer somewhere and expect audiences to come. Solar stations are a good idea: electricity for buskers and phone charging - people will come charge their phones and be an audience.
· Invest in youth.
· Art made by architects is a shame, a waste of opportunity. Architects are not artists and when they try to make public art the result inevitably falls short of what a professional artist can achieve (while costing the same).
· Spontaneous art needs to be accommodated. Bylaws are strict here and there have been prosecutions. A proportion of PA is self-produced by artists in healthy environments and this needs to be facilitated.
· Include international and national artists in calls for proposals.
· Feature a changing program of works alongside permanent works. It's great to have permanent works but having a changing program will bring the area back into people’s minds, bring them in to visit regularly etc.
· Closed briefs are an issue: e.g. asking artists to respond to the history of a place closes out ideas about the future. Councils restrict briefs to reflect their strategies, but the result is that there are too many agendas in project briefs. Any agenda limits outcomes.
· Projects briefs need to be written by public art experts.
· Briefs should not be written with an ideal work already in mind. This sets up parameters to fit into.
· Briefs need to express a vision for art in the city rather than trying to satisfy everyone (e.g. Rotterdam has a particular kind of public art that they specialise in).
· Competitions and open calls are a good way to get new works happening – not just shoulder taps of known artists.
· Artists need support to deliver new health and safety laws. Collective insurance agreements for artists would be helpful (has happened in Australia).
· Dedicated public art professionals are needed to matchmake, network and open channel. One of the most powerful ways to solve the problem here would be to have a person whose job that is here at Council.
· There is a need for locals to inform artists coming in from other places.
· Residency programmes are very effective ways to get artists to revitalise areas of the city. If you create spaces for artists to live, other things will follow. Make getting permits for living and working in one space easier across the board or in targeted places.
· Include residency opportunities for locals.
· Develop a performance library: equipment, chairs, PA, etc. Map resources.
· Facilitate citizen’s initiatives through web portals. Crowd funding creates youth buy in. Citizen’s initiative is a lower barrier for participation.
· Some participants were keen on bringing on international curators and artists for major projects like Riverlink, while others wanted curators and artists with local knowledge. Most thought a mix of local, national and international would be preferable.
· A traffic management plan festival – an artwork that takes on Hutt City’s car culture.
· Let artists “play God”, facilitate exceptions to rules for them so that innovative things can happen. Make opportunities for them to feed in to large projects. Artists are, or should be, the best our culture has to offer and can offer cutting edge, innovative, socially engaged thinking in all contexts.
7. Gaps and Opportunities:
· About Space is not attractive to professional artists because it is not framed as an art initiative. There is no kudos for artists to be involved in the programme. There is no legacy of artists with a good reputation participating – the quality of art projects has tended to be low. It’s not art focussed enough. It needs to be facilitated/curated by someone with art expertise.
· Thinking for art in vacant space needs to be site-specific.
· Sites with aesthetic appeal need to be offered, so people will come. There has to be some momentum involved. Vacant spaces are often not facilitated. You have to resource it properly: broker sponsors and patrons as well as spaces.
· Make terraces on Riverlink comfortable for performers. Public spaces where you don’t need to spend money create audiences. Non-weather dependant venues.
Hutt City Council has a great asset in public art: the widespread support of officers throughout the organisation that see the value and need for public art. Public art has been identified as a need for the city, and plans have been made to develop an increasing amount of public art. However, there is currently no delivery mechanism for these artworks inside council. There has been no expertise to plan and guide public art activity, and no staff to coordinate it. There has been no strategic plan for public art showing where, why and how public art should be delivered, and asset management has been delivered on an ad hoc basis with no central coordination. Artists have been reluctant to participate due to a lack of articulation of the difference between professional public art and grass roots community art.
These issues are, however, relatively simple and inexpensive to address. A Public Art Advisory Group has already been agreed to and is in development. This will go far to redress the lack of expertise currently available, along with an internal, part-time Public Art Manager, who would allow projects and maintenance to be centrally coordinated and controlled, and ensure that each public art project is led by the right expertise and per agreed protocols. The Public Art Manager and the PAAG together would develop a strategic plan for public art that ensures artworks deliver to the City’s strategic goals and are prioritised effectively so that they may have the most effect where they are most needed. The Public Art Manager would provide a professional interface for artists. They would also identify money saving process efficiencies, such as bringing artists into projects early on and commissioning functional artworks. A percent for art scheme would ensure that this is possible, and that council’s projects are always able to take advantage of public art’s incredible, cost-effective ability to build identity and ownership; develop a positive, creative image for the city; revitalise cityscapes; and attract entrepreneurs and local and outside visitors.