Council wants to adopt public art policy
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | November 6, 2015
It's taken a year to develop, but on Oct. 26 Dysart council got its first look at a proposed public art policy for the municipality.
"We feel, as the cultural resources committee, that it's an important policy to adopt," said Andrea Roberts, deputy-reeve and chair of the committee. "It shows pride of your community."
In 2013, council was approached by a member of the community who requested support to paint murals on buildings in downtown Haliburton. According to a report from Pat Martin, director of planning, the municipality didn't have "a policy to judge the merits of the proposal and the request was denied."
The cultural resources committee, which is made up of volunteers, developed a cultural resources plan. One of the items they identified early on was the need to develop a public art policy.
The members of the committee spent the past year developing the eight-page document, which outlines a decision-making process for public art in municipal projects, municipally acquired art (donations, commissions, etc.) and private art projects on public property.
It also addresses the management of the municipally-owned public art collection.
Committee member Jim Blake explained the committee looked at more than a dozen existing policies in communities across Canada.
"We borrowed liberally and conservatively," said Blake, pointing out some communities have much larger policies. "It's detailed stuff."
Dysart Reeve Murray Fearrey said he prefers small policies.
"It seems like an awful lot of work you've done," he laughed.
Since the policy deals with art on public property, Fearrey wanted to know what would happen with art on private property.
Blake explained the committee spent a lot of time discussing that issue, but ultimately decided they shouldn't tackle "private property in the public realm."
"We felt we didn't want to go too far in terms of dictating that," he said. Councillor Derek Knowles was taken aback by just how much work was put into the policy.
"I can't believe for a minute…the previous council could imagine it would be this type of a document," said Knowles, calling it "very restrictive".
"Like everything else, it's sometimes what you don't say that's the most important."
He requested more time to review and discuss the document with the members of the committee.
Roberts informed council that the committee "thought of everything" and added that council would have the final say when it comes to decision-making.
Martin told council they should consider "the overriding context" of the policy, "which is the municipal cultural plan."
"What we're trying to do is create a vibrant community that attracts business and will make people feel good about living here," she said.
The introduced to the cultural plan states: “The municipality sees the municipal cultural plan as an important step in establishing a shared vision that will help identify municipal and community priorities for strengthening the cultural sector and advancing cultural and economic development in the community."
Council deferred further discussion about the policy to their Nov. 23 meeting.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.