How public art is chosen

Adopted following widespread consultation in 2008, the regional Nelson Tasman Arts Strategy covers all aspects of art in our region. It spawned the Nelson Arts Policy which sets out the criteria for selecting and installing art for our city. It includes where public art should be placed, which also helps determine its size, the cost and a tailored selection process.

The four priority sites are already in the Policy (Gateway, waterfront, secondary gateways, Centre of New Zealand). The first step in choosing art for a particular site is Council asking for Expressions of Interest (EOI).

In the case of the Gateway Sculptures (Miyazu Park and Kinzett Terrace at the Atawhai entrances to the city), a total of 44 EOI were received, with roughly a third from overseas, a third from throughout New Zealand and the remainder from Nelson artists.

The first choice was New Zealand sculptor Terry Stringer’s Dance to the Music of Time for Kinzett Terrace and the second was the Miyazu Park Sculpture by Spanish artist Juan Jose Novella. By choosing both pieces at the same time the panel did not need to go through the EOI and selection process twice.

So what do artist’s need to do?

When being invited to submit proposals for work the following elements must be covered in the artist’s brief:

  • vision for the project/Council’s aspirations
  • context of the project
  • limitations of budget and timescale
  • practical requirements – site constraints, condition of site, future uses of site
  • any expectations or requirements around community involvement

Council staff then shortlist artists/arts consultants with the most appropriate skills for the project and present these to the Arts Selection Panel. It will meet to select an artist/arts consultant and a contract will then be agreed with the successful candidate by the project manager.

But if an artwork is being commissioned, an interim step will usually involve  the selected artist being paid to prepare a model of the artwork which will detail engineering, site establishment, maintenance and other relevant information. Final selection will be made once this more detailed information is available.

For the Gateway sculptures, the shortlisted proposals, including some Nelson designs, all grappled with the scale necessary for the sites. A piece that can be produced to the scale required for these two large sites was just one of the criteria to be considered.

Criteria for Selection

The Arts Selection Panel assesses the artists/art works against the following criteria:

Contribution to design team:

  • professional record
  • experience with similar projects
  • creativity/future thinking
  • demonstrated ability to meet deadline/budget constraints
    hourly rate

Commissioning artwork:

  • artistic merit of proposed artwork
  • accessibility (ability of public to appreciate and relate to the work)
  • robustness (including potential for vandalism and ongoing maintenance costs)
  • relationship to site (example required size)
  • quote for completion of work

So who’s on the Art Selection Panel?

Nominations were made by Creative New Zealand and the local Arts Sector Reference Group.

Nic Foster - Nelson artist known for his heavily textured mountain scenes. NMIT, Bachelor Visual Arts. Ilam School of Fine Arts Christchurch, Bachelor Fine Arts Honours. Coordinator of the recent Art Expo Nelson.

Julie Catchpole - Director Suter Gallery since 2007. Former Director Te Manawa (Manawatu) Art Gallery for 20 years. Founding member Palmerston North Sculpture Trust.

Colleen Dallimore - Graduate Ilam School of Fine Arts. Art and History teacher Nayland College 20 years. Tutors Fine Arts graduates for University of Canterbury’s Teacher Trainee course in drawing.

Andrew Petheram - Nelson City Council Principal Adviser - Reserves and Community Facilities

Members of the panel serve a two year term.