Draft Public Art Strategy supports all mediums in Byron Shire

Published on 16 April 2018

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Byron Shire has long been recognised as a home for artists and Council is aiming to ensure this not only continues but that the area grows to be regarded as an arts and cultural capital of northern New South Wales. 

To drive this vision Council’s Public Art Panel has developed a draft Public Art Strategy which is currently on exhibition.

Chair of the Public Art Panel, Councillor Sarah Ndiaye, said the focus in the past has been to support small, ad-hoc projects, however the panel now wants to be more strategic in its approach to public art. 

“In recent times all our funds, time and energy have gone into supporting 2D projects like murals and the reality is they require a lot of maintenance in the long term.

“We want a Public Art Strategy that supports and nurtures local artists, creating platforms for larger, more substantial works that will have longevity. We want the public art on offer to reflect the tremendous talent in our region in a variety of mediums,” Cr Ndiaye said.

“We don’t have a big budget so rather than have lots of lower-cost and unrelated projects we want to take a more cohesive approach and commission some pieces for our community that are diverse, contemporary and distinctive.  

“By pooling our various resources we can also apply for grants and hopefully get some more ambitious projects off the ground. 

“There are also plans for information sessions designed to help people understand the requirements for public art so when ‘Expressions of Interest’ for projects go out, our local artists are equipped with the skills to realise their vision in a very real and practical way.  

“Our Public Art Panel is made up of highly skilled and passionate people with local, national and international experience who all want to shine a light on art in the Byron Shire,” Cr Ndiaye said.

“The members, who were selected from an ‘Expression of Interest’ process, have diverse backgrounds including arts curation and commissioning, interior design, architecture including landscape architecture and arts education.

“Council is still committed to supporting 2D projects, but the panel is recommending expanding the public art offerings in the Byron Shire to include a variety of mediums.

“That might be printed works on mesh, installations involving light and sound or 3D sculptural works as a way of connecting our diverse communities.

“In developing this new draft Public Art Strategy the panel is aiming to achieve strong outcomes in the public art space in Byron Shire and it is recommending less of an emphasis on ‘paint’.

“This approach comes after the panel carried out an audit of current public art which found there has been significant investment, both private and public, in ‘paint’ and this is because this sort of art is well represented in the Shire, particularly in Byron Bay. 

 “Our aim is to make art more accessible to our community and everyone’s tastes are different so we should cater for this; by its very nature, public art is always going to be controversial. 

“Comments from some people that the draft Public Art Strategy is proposing a moratorium or a ban on mural/paint projects are simply untrue because Byron Shire Council supports artists working across all mediums,” Cr Ndiaye said.

The word ‘moratorium’ was written in an early report provided by a consultant but the panel removed this reference because members did not want to exclude any form of art – it does not appear in the draft strategy that is currently on public exhibition.

“Public art has the power to express our values, enhance our environment, transform a space or even the way we see the world; it’s for everyone, and through the draft Public Art Strategy, the Public Art Panel aims to ensure we reflect the wide variety of people and artists in the Byron Shire,” Cr Ndiaye said. 

The draft Public Art Strategy is on exhibition until 30 April 2018. To see the Public Art Strategy click here or go to public notices on our website www.byron.nsw.gov.au

For comment, or more information, contact Cr Sarah Ndiaye on 0432 389 353.