Council to vote on $600,000 for public art, including $10,000 for new Beatty Street mural

On Tuesday (March 23), Vancouver city council will vote on $600,000 worth of public art projects recommended  by  staff.

Public art program manager Bryan Newson's report calls for expenditures in seven areas, including $10,000 for a new Beatty Street mural.

The city came under severe criticism in December and early January after painting over a popular mural along Beatty Street between Georgia and Dunsmuir streets  before the Olympics.

(To see the mural, go here.)

"A mural by graffiti artists on the Beatty Street retaining wall at 150 Dunsmuir St. (the former bus station site) was painted out late last year in preparation for the Park's conversion to a Live City Site," Newson wrote in his report. "The resulting publicity indicated widespread public support for a mural at this site and $10,000 is recommended toward the cost of a new mural by the original coordinating artist."

The project coordinator, Milan Basic, told the Straight in January that he was "extremely disappointed" by the city's decision to paint over the mural.  

The largest expenditure, $250,000, is recommended for the Clark-Knight corridor. Late last year, the engineering and cultural-services department jointly hired a consultant to identify opportunities for public art along the route and to create a plan.

"Significant opportunities exist where the Clark/Knight Corridor intersects with east-west arterials, bike routes, Greenways, and at other areas along the corridor," Newson wrote.

He added that staff will report back on opportunities identified in the plan.

Another $200,000 is recommended for an "Artists Initiatives Program", which would allow projects proposed by artists at sites they choose.

In addition, $95,000 is recommended under the category of "Program Management" to oversee and deliver public art programs.

The report also recommends $15,000 for a "Bike Tree", which would be an artist-designed bike rack that was first approved in 2005 with a budget of $25,000.

"Through the design process, and due to rapidly evolving technological improvements, it was decided to add solar cell lighting to the project to enhance its safety and utility," Newson wrote. "Staff recommend $15,000 to cover the cost of these improvements and to complete the project."

There's also a recommendation for a $30,000 expenditure for "Public Art Maintenance".

The report notes that a percentage of each budget for public art is deposited in a reserve. "This allocation would provide $30,000 for artwork at the #1 Kingsway Civic Centre," Newson noted.

The 2009-2011 capital budget includes $2 million for public art, and last June, council approved spending $700,000 in 2009 as part of the basic capital budget. Newson stated in his report that these public art expenditures would be funded from the 2009 capital budget.

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