Council wants more public art for Chichester area

More 'public art' '“ an example of which is the famous Angel of the North '“ could soon be appearing in the Chichester district.

It is as a result of a strategy being hammered out by the district council with the aim of establishing and managing a public art fund.

Cash from developers provided under legal agreements when planning permission for new schemes is granted, will be used to implement the strategy.

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It is still in draft form and yet to go to public consultation and receive final approval from councillors.

No taxpayers' money would be involved.

The principles of the proposed strategy were backed at a meeting of the district's policy development committee, which was told public art could take a wide variety of different forms.

These could include landscaping, carved lettering and plaques,

tapestries, textiles, ceramics, tiling, interior lighting, sculpture,

landmarks, photography, paintings and computer-generated images.

"It can introduce narrative or text, and be decorative, humorous, challenging, beautiful, subtle or contentious," said a strategy report.

Work could be permanent or temporary, internal or external, integral or freestanding, monumental or domestic, large or small scale.

Arts and heritage development manager Anne Bone told the committee the strategy was about making sure the council had the right strategic approach, and that the 'sense of place' apparent in many areas and communities in the district could be celebrated.

People could also be brought together and engaged in its production.

Public art could also address the negative impact of a new development.

It could mean putting something on an individual site, or pooling money and making a bigger impact somewhere local.

Opportunities would be made for local artists to bid for public art commissions.

The strategy also includes proposals for a maintenance fund, to look after the new creations.

But Cllr Andrew Shaxson said although he supported the idea of more public art, there should not be too much of it.

"Long term, there is maintenance, and some has to look after this," he added. A budget for maintenance would be finite.

Cllr David Myers questioned whether now was the right time, in a financial crisis, for the council to be spending a lot of money on art.

Mrs Bone said they should always give the message that the work would not be funded from the public purse, but as a result of the council working with a number of agencies, including developers, to improve the local environment.

It would primarily be major developers who would be asked to provide money. "It would be unfair to expect a householder extending a house to do so," she said.

Cllr Nick Thomas, council portfolio holder for culture and sport, said: "I strongly support this on many fronts.

"It is something lacking here, when you think of other cities in this country and in Europe that major on art."

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