“One of the disadvantages of social media is that the opportunity for reasonable debate is trashed by the ease of making comments that require little thought or truth behind them.

It is saddening to see people in the comments calling into question the credentials of the artists quoted in the article.  Arthur Wicks is a senior artist with an international reputation. His work is collected in major galleries in this country. He even met Andy Warhol at the factory back in the seventies.  He has received numerous grants including a prestigious fellowship from the Australia Council. The support he has offered younger emerging artists should be applauded. Any other regional city would be celebrating his achievements and proud of him. If he was a sportsman he would have an oval or at least a toilet block

It would also be good if somebody took the time to explain to the public how the public art selection process works. As a Public Art Advisory Panel member I can assure that the Panel operates with the greatest integrity regarding conflicts of interest. No recommendations for commissions are handed out to Councillor’s relatives or mates of the panel.  The artists are chosen for the ability to produce work on time and budget, that is of high artistic quality and sensitive to the needs of the space and community.

As a member of the Panel the debate around recommending work are robust with lots of consideration given. Community representatives are brought in to help guide us when selecting works for neighbourhoods and villages.

Not everyone is going to like every single work that is commissioned by Council.  Nor should they. I don’t like sport much but I appreciate that others do and need money spent on huge lighting towers.

This city needs artists and creative people living here. We are not elitist. We are part of the fabric of the town just as anybody else is.

Lets play a game: imagine that anyone involved in the cultural and creative industries disappeared over night.  No live music, no art galleries, no graphic designers to make your favourite wine label, no signs for your local business, no movies, no tvs, no new books, magazines, newspaper, no new housing designs, no new clothing designs. Creative people are at the core of everything we do.

I am more than happy to publicly debate the role of public art and artists with anyone in our community just not on social media.”

 

Scott Howie

Executive Officer, Eastern Riverina Arts

The Daily Advertiser, Letter to the Editor, 26 July 2016

 

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