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Public Art FAQ

Here are some answers to likely questions about public art in Wood Buffalo.

What is public art?

Public art is works of art created by an artist that are located in the public realm that are free and accessible for all to experience. Public art is not an “art form”. It can take on any shape or size and can be built, assembled, performed, painted and/or cast. It can also be permanent or temporary. Public art can be integrated into architecture, urban design, landscape and our everyday environment. The Municipal Public Art Policy clearly defines public art under section 1.12:

  • Public Art [is] art that is created for, or located in, a public space that is accessible to the general public. Public art includes temporary or permanent works that are located in the public domain and created in any form, including:
    • Artworks created for specific locations;
    • Exhibits/performances/artwork installations;
    • The integration of art and architecture;
    • Collaboration of artists with architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners and engineers to create unique environments or features, which integrate art into the urban fabric of the region (e.g., glass or water features, landscape elements, paving, furniture, and parts of buildings, sound and light works, earthworks, works that address design concerns of environmental systems such as waterways, garbage disposal, recycling facilities and landfills);
    • Artworks produced through the involvement of the community; and
    • Public art does not include exhibit are of historical treasures.

What are the benefits of public art?

Public art, contributes to a sense of place and belonging for residents while attracting and creating lasting memories for visitors. It is essential to the cultural identity of a community, making it distinct and unique. It energizes public spaces, enlivens streetscapes, humanizes environments and creates a legacy for future generations. Public art works can sometimes become iconic landmarks that can drive economic and neighbourhood revitalization. People can enjoy and be challenged by the creative expression of public art in their everyday lives.

How is the artwork acquired?

The acquisition process is dynamic and unique to each project. Public art policies and guidelines are in place to ensure that the procurement process is fair, open and equitable. Once a site is selected, the scope of a project can then be defined. Depending on the desired outcome of the project, the Municipality will post a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for qualifications (RFQ). Artworks can also be acquired by direct commission or by donation.

Who selects the artwork?

The Public Art Committee advises Community Services on a list of potential jurors in the community. Community Services, as delegated by the CAO, will then develop the public art selection panel consisting of five to seven jurors based on the scope of the project. Community Services will also review qualifying proposals to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest with the public art selection panel. The panel then reviews each proposal and selects an artwork based on specific criteria developed for each project.

What is the funding model?

Commissions that are acquired for the Municipal Public Art Collection are funded through a per cent for art program outlined within the Municipal Public Art Policy. The current policy stipulates that 0.5 per cent of all eligible capital projects budgeted over 1 million dollars will be allocated to a public art reserve fund. Once monies are allocated to the reserve fund, they can be pooled over several fiscal years and are not affected by any change in the capital project budgets. The benefit of this is that it allows the municipality to acquire significant pieces to include in the public art collection.

If you have your own questions about Public Art in Wood Buffalo, contact:

Community Services Department
Community Strategies Branch
Future Forward Place
9717 Franklin Avenue, Fort McMurray
Phone: 780-743-7966

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