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PUBLIC ART

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					PUBLIC ART
“The new public art demands and invites communication and the engagement of
                                  others”
                                                           Mary Jane Jacob

   1. Where are we now?

Public art can generate a culture of creativity and help to promote the image of a
creative city. Professional artists‟ skills, visions and creative abilities can imbue our
city‟s spaces and places with a unique quality and enliven and animate space by
creating a visually stimulating environment.

At the beginning of 2003, the City Council and the Arts Council, East Midlands produced
a Public Art Strategy for Derby. The Strategy provides best practice guidance on public
art as a process. Its definition of public art media is very broad, encompassing the
temporary as well as the permanent, from traditional materials such as bronze to digital
projection, performance, and other light-based works. The Derby Arts Forum and Derby
City Partnership‟s Cultural City Executive were involved in its development.

The Strategy has been a key reference point for work on public art within the city, in
particular, for professional artists, urban designers, arts organisations, and developers.
The Strategy has generated or encouraged a number of initiatives, including:
                 a short-lived but useful Derby Arts Forum Public Art Working Group
                 publication of a glossy advice leaflet entitled „Public Art – a guide for
                   developers‟
                 preparation of a series of electronic information sheets about local
                   artworks – „the Derby Public Artwork Series‟.
The Strategy, advice leaflet, and information sheets, together with other material, are
available on the Public Art pages of the Council web site.

Wider consultation events were organised as part of Derby City Partnership week in
2003 and 2004 to raise awareness of public art and broaden the basis of the public art
debate. Outcomes concluded that the city has a good number of artworks, there is good
variety, there are some attractive artworks of real quality and that artworks are focussed
in, but not restricted to, the city centre. At the same time it was established that Derby
is not associated with bold, iconic artworks giving Derby an identity and a presence,
works celebrating the city‟s cultural diversity are lacking, and performance and
ephemeral art in public places are rare.

In more recent times, the city has gained momentum in its commitment to deliver quality
public art. A new championing and advisory framework has been formed by an officer-
level Public Art Co-ordination Group with representation from Derby Cityscape, serving
a new Public Art Steering Group, made up of the Cabinet Member for Leisure and
Direct Services, an academic from the University of Derby, and an entrepreneur from
the creative industries. This framework has reinvigorated and significantly strengthened
the capacity to achieve through public art a city that explicitly celebrates creativity in and
through its built environment. In spring 2007 it was endorsed by the Council‟s
Environment Committee following a review of Public Art in Derby. The Public Art
Strategy is being updated and reviewed, focussing upon how we will enhance Derby‟s
creative assets, set a vision and series of aspirations for the future and best practice
approaches in the development of public art.

Site-specific opportunities for public art are integral to the vision for the city‟s public
realm within the Derby City Centre Public Realm Strategy. Now adopted by the City
Council, the Public Realm Strategy‟s main objective is to enhance the unique identity of
the city by providing it with the best possible public realm. The Strategy has
subsequently led to significant investment in a comprehensive public realm
improvement programme. Public art is about the collaboration and the integration of
ideas often between artists, architects, landscape architects, urban designers and the
public. The earlier an artist is involved in the design process the more integrated,
creative, cohesive and consequently successful is the outcome. The development of
the urban environment is a creative act that requires artistic imagination to be
interwoven into the decision-making process. The public realm improvement
programme provides the city with an exciting opportunity to initiate a step-change in the
expression of art as part of, and within, the external fabric of the city and making a real
difference on the ground.


    2. Where do we want to be in 5 years time?

The foundations are being set for an exciting period in the development of public art
within Derby. The ideal picture for public art in Derby in 5 years time would be:

      A continued commitment to public art as an expression of the city‟s creativity and
       a city leading from the front in showing how changes to the built environment can
       be supported and enriched by the arts.
      A selection of high quality iconic artworks by professional artists of international
       standing within our city centre.
      Continued support to the creative industries supporting the growth of the local
       economy.
      A context supporting the early involvement of professional artists in the design
       process to maximise the collaboration between artists, architects, landscape
       architects, and urban designers to encourage creativity to flourish and the
       integration of ideas allowing them to deploy their unique skills and creativity in
       an effective way.
      An increased knowledge and awareness of the value of public art and how the
       built environment can be enriched by the arts providing something extra or
       special. It is the artist who can offer this skill, the ability to deliver something
       unique and engaging that appeals to people on an emotional and/or intellectual
       level.
      Creatively engaging local communities capturing what is quintessential about our
       places and using artistic thinking to turn an individual reflection into a collective
       experience.
      Artworks which people of all ages and backgrounds will be able to enjoy.
      A context that embraces new art forms such as digital media and interactive
       technology to create new markers that reflect our present culture that will inspire
       others in the future in the same way that we can enjoy the legacy of our past.
      A transformed public realm providing increased provision for the presentation of
       performance-based public art and more ephemeral sculptural and related works,
       all helping to enhance the city‟s outdoors as a place of, and a place for, creative
       cultural activity.
      Artworks that show awareness of and are responsive to Derby‟s rich built
       heritage: innovative, challenging, giving a memorable and recognisable image
       and location, and contributing to the creation of a positive overall image for
       Derby.
      An increased knowledge and understanding of the benefits a high quality public
       realm, including public art, can bring to the local economy by increasing investor
       confidence and attracting tourism.

These ambitions bring together the intertwined aspects of context, the artistic process
and the product. We need to support artists and give them greater influence to ensure
their creative approach becomes enshrined in the way we think about our towns and
cities. As outlined in CABE‟s Artist and Places (2008): “When artists are engaged in
placemaking the way they think and address issues can fundamentally affect the
outcome, by broadening the scope of what is conceivable, and by helping professionals
and communities to unlock their creativity and find better ways of expressing
themselves”.


    3. How do we get there?

Much of the delivery needed to meet the physical aspects of these aspirations, in
particular to the city centre public realm, will be through the City Council working in
partnership with Derby Cityscape. Policy and strategy relevant to the task is included in
the Cityscape Masterplan and the Public Realm Strategy and will be enhanced by the
updated Public Arts Strategy.

There will also be work on specific sites and small area studies. At this level,
negotiations about individual sites within the Development Control processes that form
part of the statutory Town Planning system come to the fore. The Development Control
service will continue to be supported by the Council‟s Public Art Technical Support
Officer and Council and Cityscape Urban Design staff, in particular in encouraging best
practice and increasing the understanding of the contribution artists‟ creativity can
provide in placemaking. The Public Art Steering Group and the Public Art Co-
Ordination Group will have increasingly important advisory roles, including advice on
themes, the approach to individual sites, and the distribution of and spatial relationships
between artworks. The Co-ordination Group has a three-year rolling action plan that it
will keep up to date to allow progress to be assessed and to encourage new
opportunities to be explored. Evolving and newly-commissioned studies and strategies
will be another way in which ideas and implementation are taken forward. These will
include a Wayfinding and Public Art Masterplan for Derby city centre.

Performance-based artwork and ephemeral artwork will be promoted through the
Council‟s Arts and Events Team, working with Derby Arts Forum in particular. Events
will be incorporated within the Public Art Co-Ordination Group‟s rolling action plan.
Management of performance-based artwork will be facilitated through the Events
Planning Group, who can advise on all aspects of what‟s needed to make sure that
events run smoothly, safely and successfully.

    4. How will we know when we’re there?
There are a range of measures that can be taken to assess the success in relation to
the objectives detailed above:

     Enhanced city centre spaces providing places for cultural activity including
      ephemeral and performance based public art.
     At least three high quality iconic artworks by professional artists of international
      standing within our city centre that would give Derby a new visual identity.
     An increased level of artworks endorsed by arts bodies, for example, Arts
      Council East Midlands.
     An established expectation that professional artists will be embedded within the
      development teams tasked with designing and improving major public realm
      projects.
     A continuation of providing small-scale, site-specific, quality artworks that give
      moments of delight and enjoyment to our city‟s places and spaces.
     The implementation of a public art masterplan for the city centre providing a
      coordinated and cohesive approach shaped by aspects of Derby‟s culture.
     Increased interest in Derby‟s public art and engagement from the public and the
      media.
     A transformed public realm providing interest, memories, local distinctiveness
      and meaning, a fulfilled experience, for the people of Derby and those who visit.

                                                                             Nicola Handa

				
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