Byron’s ‘Disco Dong’ sculpture will soon be removed from its throne on the Bayshore Dr roundabout, but its legacy looks set to live on for decades as a result of changes to Council’s public art policy.
A report to come before next week’s Public Art Panel meeting sets out a range of new guidelines for the future commissioning and construction of public art installations, many of which have been drawn directly from the ill-fated experience of the Dong.
‘It’s been driven by learnings taken from The Lighthouse project which has given us lived experience of some of the pitfalls in the public art space, particularly where the community has strong opinions,’ the art panel’s chair, Sarah Ndiaye said.
‘Staff have done a thorough examination of best practice in other areas across Australia, a literature review of commissioning both in regional and metro areas, and comparisons with other NSW councils.
‘As Chair I will be listening to feedback from the panel, but in principal this is what we have been asking for and I look forward to integrating some of key learning experiences into the revised document.’
Among the suggested new guidelines is a rule stating that local artists should be given greater weighting when considering expressions of interest for future projects.
The selection of a Melbourne artist for the Bayshore Drive project drew significant criticism from some residents, with a number suggesting a work from a local artist would have been more in keeping with the Shire’s character.
The need to take note of views such as these was recognised in a recommendation that the guidelines include greater scope for community consultation when deciding on major public art projects, particularly in prominent locations.
The report also recommends more rigour when it comes to ensuring that what an artist delivers is in keeping with what is promised in the original concept.
This would be done through regular reporting requirements and a commissioning contract based on a model developed by the Arts Law Centre of Australia.
Cr Ndiaye said she believed the proposed guidelines were workable .
‘Many I believe are crucial to improving our processes in relation to integrating public art into the community successfully,’ she said.
The full list of proposed guidelines can be viewed here.