NATIONAL Association for the Visual Arts executive director Penelope Benton thinks the idea of a public art inventory has merit in protecting works.
The organisation campaigns for public artworks to be properly treated in line with federal legislation, the Copyright Act and their code of practice, including informing the artists when works need repairs, or have to be moved or decomissioned. That process isn’t always followed, and Ms Benton says an artwork register could improve compliance.
“I do think that idea could work, and I think it would not only be really useful when trying to track down the owner of a public artwork, and in some cases, the artist, but it would also be popular from a tourism perspective” as people seek out attractions to visit.
An inventory with full background details would help with several points in NAVA’s code of practice and compliance with copyright law, including that before an artwork is removed the commissioner should consider the opinions and advice of the artist, and the community or cultural issues surrounding the work.
“Art in the public space is as old as humanity. While public art is not a new concept, its popularity in Australia has boomed since the 1980s, and even more so in the last two decades alongside a global movement that academically acknowledges the power of art in engaging people and place.”
“The social and economic benefits of public art are well researched; there’s no doubt that art in the public space can engage communities and neighbourhoods and even draw widespread visitors to a place.
“Public artwork must be maintained for the duration of its lifespan. Under moral rights legislation, the commissioner or owner has a moral responsibility to uphold the integrity in the work.”