Public Art Policy

Public art has the power to energize and enhance our public spaces, make us think, and transform where we live, work, and play.

It can be several stories high or bring attention to the pavement beneath our feet. It can inspire conversation and help calm our hurried lifestyles. It can also be controversial.

In 2010, Victoria City Council approved a new policy to increase funding for art in public spaces and expand opportunities for artists and members of the public to participate in the process. The Art in Public Places Policy was the result of a six-month review of the City's 17 year old public art policy.

The Art in Public Places policy upholds the intentions of the original 1993 policy, but reflects more clearly articulated goals, and proposes changes in structure, responsibilities and practices. The policy also sets out a new funding formula for public art and ensures ongoing resources for funding through a new Art in Public Places Reserve Fund.

Under the policy, annual funding for public art increases by $92,000, to a total of $150,000; this includes $135,000 for new artworks and $15,000 for the maintenance of existing pieces. Under the previous policy, a total of $58,000 was allotted per year, with $50,000 for new artworks and $8,000 for maintenance. The $150,000 represents 1% of qualifying projects in the City's average annual capital plan, of which 10% will be committed to the maintenance of existing artworks.

The City contributes up to 1% of the total construction costs for exceptional, significant civic projects, with the money going to a new Art in Public Places Reserve Fund. The funding can be used to incorporate public art into a project's design elements, to create a stand alone piece onsite, or for public art at another location.

Projects are identified by a new inter-departmental staff team that meet regularly to prioritize locations for new artworks. The team also reviews the new policy every five years to ensure it remains viable and relevant.

Art in Public Places Committee

A five-member Art in Public Places Committee provides more opportunities for community participation.

For more information about this committee, please click here.

Art in Public Places Selection Panel

A project's selection panel is comprised of one of the five Art in Public Places Committee members, two artists, a visual arts professional, two community representatives, an architect (for City construction projects), and an urban design professional from the City's Sustainable Planning and Community Development Department.

Finalists' Maquettes

The new policy provides opportunities for the public to view finalists' maquettes on display at City Hall once a selection panel has named a winning submission.

Policy Review

In fall 2009, the City initiated a review of its 17-year old public art policy. As part of the review, the following steps were taken:

  1. Research of other North American public art policies and "best practices".
  2. Formation of a 14-member steering committee consisting of a range of community representatives who participated in a transparent review to develop a new public art policy for the City of Victoria.
  3. Consultation with the broader community.

Public Opportunities

The review process provided citizens with opportunities to learn more about the current policy, ask questions, and provide input on how they would like to see it improved. Public input was key to developing a new public art policy for Victoria. Information and feedback opportunities included:

  • City of Victoria website for updates and notices
  • Facebook
  • Fact Sheet
  • Online survey
  • Print surveys at City Hall
  • Lectures
  • Focus group discussions
  • Media coverage
  • Input by the Public Art Policy Review Steering Committee

A well-attended lecture/focus group discussion featuring Cath Brunner, the Director of Seattle's Public Art4Culture, launched the City's public art policy review on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at City Hall.

In addition, two workshops were held in October to provide local artists and the public an opportunity to learn more and provide input.

Online and print surveys available at the workshops and at City Hall also provided the public with an opportunity to provide input.