Date published: 5/10/2015

Public art is challenging at best. Successful public art projects require a rare combination of skills and knowledge, often antithetical to other artistic practice.  The design documentation stage can be particularly difficult, in that it requires artists to translate artistic ideas – often fluid, intuitive, and conceptual - into concrete, mathematical and precise documentation. This process alone can sometimes leave artists wondering why they should practice public art at all.

The benefits, however, can be immense. Not only for artists in terms of developing a sustainable artistic practice, but for Western Australian communities and public spaces. Public art projects that are well-conceived, well-planned, and well-delivered by a diverse range of artists can add cultural, social and economic value to a town and meaning and uniqueness to communities.

Part of Artsource’s commitment to developing Western Australian artists’ capacity in public art is the Public Art Masterclass series of workshops, aimed at assisting professional artists interested in incorporating public art into their practice.

In Public Art Masterclass 2, twelve artists learned the importance of understanding and negotiating public art contracts, as well as what goes into design documentation. On day one of the Masterclass, the Wrays Attorneys team gave an in-depth presentation on the protection of intellectual property and copyright as well as the intricacies of a public art contract. They were followed by a highly interactive presentation by Marie Mills, Principle of the public relations agency Mills Wilson. Ms Mills provided advice and tips on negotiation and communications from project start to finish, including contract negotiation, variation and stakeholder management.

Day two gave participants the chance to get into the finer details of design documentation with experienced public artist and previous SciTech artist-in-residence, Phillip Gamblen. Artsource Consulting Manager, Tabitha Minns then invited participants to develop design documentation for a mock public art project.

Local Governments and policy-makers who have public art policies in place, strive for excellence in their own public art projects and to develop public art capacity within their communities. Doing so has the double benefit of contributing to a local, cultural economy, as well as achieving public art that is meaningful and relevant to the community in which it is installed.

Our Public Art Masterclass Series is part of the consulting services Artsource offers to support artists. We advocate for best practice and innovation in public art, curation, art policy, commissioning, and community engagement . To find out how we can bring capacity building in public art to your community visit artsource.net.au or call (08) 9335 8366 to speak with one of our consultants.

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