Libs claim arts habit costs ACT $4300 a day
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Libs claim arts habit costs ACT $4300 a day

The ACT opposition claims the government has spent on average about $4300 a day on public art since 2007.

The government's figures suggest the amount on average is closer to about $4000 a day.

Recently installed public art on City Walk. Poets' Corner by Cathy Weiszmann

Recently installed public art on City Walk. Poets' Corner by Cathy WeiszmannCredit:Rohan Thomson

Opposition arts spokeswoman Vicki Dunne says regardless, it's too much and has flagged a freeze on funding for public art should the Liberals win government at the October election.

''Without announcing our arts policy, there would be very little appetite in my party room for any public art funding. My colleagues would see there should be other priorities for ACT taxpayers' money and at the very least that amount money should be distributed across all the arts practices,'' Mrs Dunne said.

''You won't see the roll-out of ACT taxpayer-funded public art. There is a lot being done by the private sector and we encourage that and welcome that because it also enriches our city.''

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Mrs Dunne said the opposition believed the government had spent more than $8 million on public art since 2007 based on its own research and answers to questions on notice to the government.

The answer to one question on notice put the total amount spent on public art since 2007-08 at $7.99 million, including purchase, commission, transport and installation.

Only 38 works were listed by the government as costing almost $8 million.

In one case, a glasswork commissioned from artist Warren Langley called Microscopia cost $170,000 to purchase but in the end cost a total of $400,000 due to commission, transport and installation in Canberra and at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. ''We think there has been too much money spent on public art to the detriment of the other arts practices,'' Mrs Dunne said.

''There needs to be considerably more consultation with the community about what and where; much more interaction with the School of Art, in particular, so emerging artists can benefit as well.''

However, Arts Minister Joy Burch said public arts spending since 2007 had been just over $7.5 million for 109 works of art. The Percent for Art Scheme, which committed 1 per cent of the new capital works program each financial year to public art projects, was canned in 2009.

''There has been no funding allocated to public art since the 2008-09 budget, and even when the ACT government did make this investment in improving the public spaces of Canberra it made up about 0.5 per cent of the territory's budget,'' Mrs Burch said.

''Since then, the ACT government has continued to invest in the arts more broadly, such as the redevelopment at the Street Theatre, upgrades to the Canberra Theatre precinct, continued funding for arts organisations and artists, and the proposed establishment of arts hubs in Kingston, Ainslie and the Street Theatre.

''The ACT government's recurrent funding for the arts is goes towards funding arts organisations, individual artists, arts programs and our cultural facilities such as the Canberra Museum and Gallery.

''In contrast, we haven't seen a single arts policy from the Canberra Liberals in almost four years. Besides indicating that a Liberal government would cut funding to the arts, the extent of the Canberra Liberals' contribution to the arts is attacking a program that ceased more than three years ago.''