Letter to the Editor: Make public art scheme compulsory for one year

Letter to the Editor: Make public art scheme compulsory for one year

Your readers may be familiar with the Per Cent for Art Scheme, which, in Ireland, allows for the promoters of any public construction project to allocate 1% of its final budget to an arts commission.

As of January 1, the guidelines for such allocations are as follows:

Budget/Per Cent for Art €0–€5m, up to €50,000; €5m–€20m, €125,000; €20m–€50m, €350,000 and €50m-plus, €500,000.

This allocation for art can be used to commission work in any art form, be it music, theatre, dance, film, literature, architecture, visual art or performance. The works can be of any duration, temporary or permanent.

The guidelines specify that the Per Cent for Art Scheme budget, when allocated, is ring-fenced, and cannot be made available for any other element of the project. Less heartening is the stipulation that the Per Cent for Art Scheme budget must be included by the commissioning body at the inception of the capital construction project. In other words, it is not compulsory for the promoters of a public construction project to include a Per Cent for Art component in their proposal, and it is, it seems, too late to do so once funding for a project has been approved.

This is no doubt why so few public construction projects include a Per Cent for Art Scheme component.

Might I suggest that those who work in, or have an interest in, the arts lobby their public representatives to make the Per Cent for Art Scheme compulsory, if only for a trial period of one year?

This would result in an extraordinary windfall for arts workers, and a boon for local communities.

Marc O’Sullivan

Artistic director

Beara Arts Festival

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