Byron Council’s public art panel has recommended that the artist behind the much-discussed lighthouse sculpture on the Bayshore Drive roundabout be allowed to ‘finish the job’, at an estimated cost of up to $45,000.
During its meeting this week, the art panel considered two options for the future of the sculpture: allowing the artist to complete the work, or leaving it in its present state.
The Echo understands that the members of the panel were almost unanimous in their view that Melbourne artist Corey Thomas should be allowed to finish the sculpture – an opportunity he was reportedly denied owing to the short timeframe and workplace health and safety rules imposed on the project by Council staff.
This is despite Mr Thomas previously reportedly telling Council staff at the time that the sculpture was done. He has now volunteered his time to finish the job.
The panel acknowledged this offer, and has recommended to Council that it provide the necessary funding and support to allow this to happen.
A final decision will be made at the full Council meeting in August.
In the art panel’s meeting agenda, Council staff note that although the artist is prepared to cover his own expenses, an estimated $32,000 to $42,000 will be required for ‘traffic control, site safety and supervision, the elevated work platform and contingencies’.
The upper estimate also includes the cost of an experienced arts consultant, who will undertake management of the project.
The report notes that the cost could increase if the work takes longer than expected, and that any funding would have to come from existing Council reserves rather than section 7.12 funds, which are specifically allocated for public art and other local beautification works.
Meanwhile, in a separate motion for this Thursday’s Council meeting, Cr Jan Hackett has called for the development of a comprehensive arts and cultural policy, to avoid the issues that occurred with the Bayshore Drive sculpture.
She has also called for $100,000 to be spent on hiring a specialist arts consultant or contractor to assist Council staff on large projects such as the lighthouse sculpture.
‘Spending in the arts continues to be budgeted in a seemingly ad hoc and reactive fashion,’ Cr Hackett said.
‘It would appear that Council is attempting to develop and co-ordinate their engagement in the arts using non-specialist in-house staff and without a budget.
‘It’s an impossible ask and yet another example of the arts [sector] being seen as non-core business – simply icing on the cake’.