agendaNi explores the Percent for Art initiative launched by former Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir prior to the collapse of the Assembly.
Recognising the role art can play in transforming spaces across Northern Ireland, the Percent for Art initiative aims to promote collaboration between government and the construction industry with artists.
The benefits of integration of art does not only lie in the planning, design and construction of buildings and their surroundings but also impacts on the wider attractiveness for areas to live, work and visit. Enhanced civic pride in creative spaces is also seen as an integral part of urban regeneration, a catalyst for inward investment and a resulting creation of jobs.
The Procurement Guidance Note (PGN) guidance refers to publicly funded infrastructure projects with a net capital construction budget of £1 million or greater. The Department is encouraged to include an allocation of 1 per cent of the net capital construction budget for the provision of art in the project. While the funding will be capped at £100,000, departments will have discretion to increase this funding in particularly large infrastructure projects
Such projects include the newbuild and refurbishment of public buildings, open spaces, infrastructure facilities and environmental schemes.
However, there is also potential for inclusion of non-visible, sub-surface infrastructure projects, civil engineering and utilities projects. Unlike buildings such as hospitals or public sector offices, whereby art can be utilised within the building, these other infrastructure projects have been encouraged to think innovatively and creatively of how they can better the surrounding space. Some of the examples given include installation of artwork at childrens’ play park close to the sub surface works or the inclusion of artificial lighting, texture and colour in the construction of bridges and road and rail network.
Given the expected wider community benefits of the project, departments also have the option to apply Percent for Art to projects below the £1 million value.
As well as supporting and promoting the diversity of the local arts sector and its artists, departments are also encouraged to consider the contribution of the voluntary arts sector (e.g. school children) in commissioning projects and artwork.
In the context of this policy, the Percent for Art budget should be ring fenced solely for the delivery of applied art, integrated art and temporary art which will include the artist’s fee for collaboration and co-ordination with the design/contractor teams. Design/contractor teams’ fees for collaboration and co-ordination with the Artist; and the cost of building fabric elements facilitating integrated art should be accounted for within the project’s construction budget.
Breaking artwork down in to three categories, the guidance outlines that Percent for Art budget should be ring fenced for the delivery of applied art, integrated art and temporary art, including the artist’s fee for collaboration and co-ordination with the design/contractor teams. The team’s fees for collaboration with the artist and the cost of building materials for integrated art will be accounted for within the project’s construction budget.
The successful commissioning will include collaboration from variety of sources including: the Department; the Government Arts Advisory Panel; the Department’s arts coordinator; the construction project’s artwork committee; and the artist.
Commenting on the announcement of the initiative, Ó Muilleoir said: “The arts can play a vital role in transforming public spaces and buildings. The Percent for Art scheme will deliver substantial investment in the creative economy and community arts, and produce inspirational works of art that enrich our cultural heritage.”