Is Public Art Really Going Private?
The financial crisis of 2008 has had its share of impact on the world of art too. The first and most visible effects have been on Public Art projects. In this light, we may not even realize the extent of ‘privatization’ taking over public art.
The financial crisis has led to quite a few countries cutting down their funding for cultural projects and there has been a significant dip in the sanctions for such intents.
This has led to the cities and communities with an intent to initiate such cultural or public art projects seeking out entrepreneurs, private galleries, and real estate developers. Simultaneously as the top end of the art market seems to show signs of cooling down, the big players of the world of commercial art are testing the waters in the realm of Public Art. This, of course is motivated by the intent to diversify their revenue streams.
The investors and the new age entrepreneurs are known to believe and mention that the public art projects have been way too dependent on public funding for way too long. This statement on its own suggests ardent interest among the investors to diversify.
Futurecity, one such private company is involved now in creating permanent installations on London’s new Crossrail line on the stations that are predicted to be some of the busiest ones in future. This is one of the prominent privately executed projects for Public Art that engages artists associated with some of the most reputed galleries of the city and is being sponsored by London Corp. and a host of other private organizations. The 70 mile Crossrail that would be linking Reading in the west to Shenfield in the east would open in 2018.
It is interesting, however to note that as the market has come to realize the value of culture and the arts, the public funding for the same has begun to dry up.
The giant among the art fairs – Art Basel is iconic in its success in providing an economic boost to Miami through its annual fair. It has taken a step further now and gone on to announce its new Art Basel Cities initiative that will collaborate with various civic partners.
With a strong belief that the cities mostly aspire to be marked on the map as a cultural destination, they assert that it is the creative populace that attracts others from varied skill sets even from IT and business sector. Art Basel may develop a gallery district, open air art displays or digital platforms. Governmental economic grants are charted to be the main medium of funding.
Westminster borough of London is witness to and venue of “Vroom Vroom” by Lorenzo Quinn, a sculpture of a giant hand grabbing a vintage Fiat 500 model like a toy which reaffirms the loosening of institutional hold over public art. This, however is just one of many works in the “City of Sculpture” initiative of the borough where 15 commercial and 2 public galleries have contributed.
This has come across as an effort to provide the visitors and the residents an opportunity and an exposure to inspiring works of public art in the spaces accessible to all, even in the times of stringent constraints placed on public finances. A strong and solid stream of such funding has been credited to the developers who apply to the city for planning permits.
This has a layered repercussion though as the cities experience a generous in flow of finance from the international market and inflating property prices proliferation of public art is definitely encouraged and supported. It is this condition and situation that has resulted in art taking a prominent place while creativity might even suffer.