Council to look at public art policy

The City of Red Deer will review its public arts policy to see if taxpayer money should be spread out across more buildings frequented by the public.

The City of Red Deer will review its public arts policy to see if taxpayer money should be spread out across more buildings frequented by the public.

Councillor Gail Parks asked for the review on Monday.

She is asking administration to see if there could be a reduction in the amount allocated to public art, to examine having at least some portion of art coming from Red Deer and Alberta artists, and to ensure art is found in buildings where people visit regularly.

Parks said she favours the city spending money on art, but wondered whether the current public arts policy was excessive and especially during these slower economic times.

The policy allows the city to allocate 1.2 per cent of capital construction costs towards public art, if that capital project is more than $250,000. Art can be added in new and renovated buildings, engineered structures and park projects.

Parks wonders if the amount should be .5 per cent or one per cent on all capital projects.

“That would spread it around a little bit,” she said.

Last month, council approved public art worth more than $325,000. The art will adorn the new downtown RCMP headquarters, the outside of the north-end police/fire precinct, the recently renovated Golden Circle and the Red Deer Emergency Services new station in Johnstone Crossing.

All four artists are from out of province.

“I am supportive of artists from around the world, but I think if we’re spending taxpayers’ dollars, it would be incumbent upon us to try and include work from local artists who live in our community and need to make a living,” Parks said. “I think we have some pretty wonderful artists in our city.”

Parks also wondered why public art would go into the RCMP building.

“I am quite sure the majority of citizens in our city are never ever inside a police building,” she said.

Legislative and Administrative Services manager Elaine Vincent anticipates a report will return to council in about a month.

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