Artists horrified by Chamber attack

ARTISTS have described a push from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA to kill off public art in major developments as part of a Covid-19 recovery plan as “horrifying”.

The chamber, WA’s peak business lobby group, claimed in its Covid-19 Policy Response that percent for art schemes adopted by councils such as Fremantle delayed projects “four to ten weeks” and were an unnecessary impost on developers.

“It has been found that this requirement has no proper planning purpose, but council planning schemes still require planning applicants to submit this requirement,” the Chamber’s document said.

“The WA government should clarify that requiring 1 per cent of the construction value of a project for public art is not an enforceable requirement under planning schemes.”

Artist, curator and writer Paola Anselmi told the Herald when she first alerted other professionals in the industry, many thought it so improbable they thought she was pranking them.

“What I find most infuriating is the misunderstanding of what these public commissions are, broadly speaking,” Ms Anselmi said.

“The people who benefit are not just the artists; they get a percentage, but everyone else – the tradies, the manufacturers, the painters – they all benefit along the way.

“A lot of small businesses have enjoyed great support and partnerships with artists and that would be the end of those businesses.”

Ms Anselmi said public art also helped councils build relationships with the community by making the area around development “engaging and interesting rather than just pure concrete”.

She was also concerned that if it won its way, the chamber would seek to permanently kill off the initiative.

“This is just opportunism; let’s kick them when they are down.”

South Fremantle artist and television producer David Moran said he couldn’t accept the claim of 10-week delays.

“I did a bit of work on it today and I can’t find anything anywhere that supports this idea,” he said.

for art scheme has given a vitally important social gift to Australian culture and will benefit generations to come.

“Suspending this is not a good idea.

“The public loved Bella; I saw the outpouring of emotion over her theft.

“People love art; we need to ensure that they get enough of it.

“As we know the arts sector has suffered enormous losses due to Covid-19 and has not received any form of government support during the pandemic.

“Notwithstanding the fact that the sector is worth over $110 billion to Australian GDP and nation-wide employs more people than the mining industry,” Mr Moran said.

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