By Stephen Thomson, The Georgia Straight, November 2, 2012
The City of New Westminster has drafted a new plan to formally guide how it acquires and pays for major public works of art like sculptures, murals, and monuments.
Under the proposed policy, the city would set aside funds from its annual operating budget and establish a special reserve fund to cover the costs of new installations.
The city would fund the commissioning of new works by allocating an amount of the operating budget equivalent to $2 per citizen and to one percent of the cost of certain capital projects.
The policy also outlines a formal process for handling other potential sources of funding such as voluntary amenity contributions offered by developers during rezoning applications.
A city staff report recommends council adopt the new policy, which acknowledges the value of public art in the community and affirms the city’s support for installing temporary and permanent works.
By creating the policy, New Westminster is following the lead of dozens of communities across Canada, including Vancouver and Surrey, that already have similar programs in place.
The need for New Westminster to establish such a policy was identified as part of a municipal arts strategy adopted in 2008. It was drafted by a city advisory committee on public art that is expected play a main role in selecting new works in consultation with city staff and the public.
New Westminster city council is set to consider the proposed policy at a meeting on November 5.