In a city represented by The Spirit Catcher, a 25 meter tall kinetic sculpture, it may come as a surprise that Barrie, unlike most cities our size, does not yet have a Public Art Policy.
However, City Council is currently considering this Public Art Policy, carefully crafted by our community, for our community.
It puts forward a framework for acquiring art for our public spaces, and provides a sound and self-sustaining financial model to ensure ongoing maintenance and preservation. Like in so many other cities across the country, it proposes that one percent of the capital budget be put aside to acquire, maintain and preserve a public art collection.
What is Public Art? Simply put, it is investing in visual art to be displayed in our public spaces.
Why? Local art is an expression of our community – it tells our stories. It beautifies our city, and increases our quality of life. In turn, we are more attractive to professionals considering relocating here and, likewise, to business investment. It increases tourism, and most importantly, our own civic pride.
Public art is already our brand: The Spirit Catcher is the quintessential icon of our city. Most of our residents never knew Barrie without it.
Today, the City of Barrie routinely declines donations of artwork because our city has no strategy for selecting and maintaining these works. Without a concrete plan and stable funding, our city has been right to reject these investments.
And Canadian art is a sound investment, with a rate of return from 18-39% in recent years, according to the Globe and Mail.
There are two key aspects to this policy that must remain unchanged:
- That 1% of the capital budget be applied to Public Art;
- That a Public Art Reserve fund be established out of those funds to ensure a self-sustaining model of acquisition and maintenance.
One percent is the Public Art standard, though many municipalities have decided to exceed it. Second, the Reserve must be earmarked for Public Art only, and should not be accessible for roads or other city expenses. Without a stable funding model, a Public Art Policy cannot succeed.
Please support our Public Art Policy by attending City Council’s meeting on Monday 24 September 2012 at 7 pm. Please wear your art on your sleeve to show Councillors you support cultural investment in our city.
In addition, or if you are unable to attend, please let City Council know your thoughts.