The City of Terrace is creating a standardized policy for managing public art.
Previously the City reviewed public art proposals case-by-case, with no clear policy as to which City staff should be involved in the process or how much council should participate.
Now, City staff have recommended the process be streamlined because they anticipate an influx in public art proposals this year as the Terrace Downtown Improvement Area Society (TDIA) plans to spend $20,000 on public sculptures.
City staff presented a proposal for the standardized public art policy to council at a meeting May 6. The proposed policy calls for an 8-person advisory panel that would oversee public art proposals and make recommendations to council, which would have the final say.
The panel would consist of one councillor, two City staff and five members of the public representing “a broad cross-section of the community.”
Councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller said it will be crucial to have Indigenous representation on the advisory panel. She recommended having at least two Indigenous people on the panel.
The proposed policy also includes guidelines for the advisory panel to follow in selecting, installing and maintaining public art installations.
Councillor Brian Downie expressed concern that the proposed policy did not include a guideline encouraging public artworks from Indigenous artists, particularly from Kitsumkalum or Kitselas artists.
“I’m wondering whether we shouldn’t have something explicit about aboriginal art in the community, we don’t have a tremendous amount of representation,” he said at the May 6 meeting. “We talk about diversity, and relationships, and our good neighbours, but in essence we don’t have much [public art] that reflects.”
The proposed policy is really intended to address practical aspects of public artworks, such as the size and location, but not the creative aspects, said David Block, director of development services.
“The policy itself doesn’t have a theme or a style, but more a process to just evaluate, review. Review location site, the size, the shape,” he said, adding that Terrace’s Official Community Plan strongly encourages Indigenous artwork.
City planner Tara Irwin said the City would only have to judge creative aspects of public artwork if the City were funding the artwork itself, whereas the current proposed policy is intended for handling external proposals, such as the expected sculpture proposals from the TDIA.
Dave Gordon, president of the TDIA, said the organization hopes to fund 2 – 4 sculptures in the downtown core. It has a theme this year of bringing forward artwork that celebrates a sense of place in the northwest.
“That’s kind of open to interpretation to people, certainly that includes all types of First Nations art,” he told The Terrace Standard. “Having First Nations public art is a really important part of our community path moving forward.”
The TDIA will put out a call later this month for expressions of interest from artists who want to create a downtown sculpture, and a shortlist will be created from there.
City staff are revising the proposed policy following the May 6 discussion and they will present a final version to council for approval at a future meeting.