Public Art for the Place Economy

by Dr. Chetana Andary

Public Art for the Place Economy

The role of art in the public realm has been tasked with a new remit – to draw on the central role of creativity in shaping alternative urban communities. With expanded opportunities to activate, integrate and mediate, public art has become a new tool in the place makers kit and a must-have for new development. Its inclusion within the Place Economy Vol 3 highlights both the social and economic imperatives of designing and implementing places that succeed for people – places that understand the complexity of the human condition and the desire for art to tell our stories, captivate our imagination and bring us together. Vigorously mobilised as a key driver for economic development, liveability and creative industry competitiveness, public art has undergone a renaissance since the late 20th century as a tool for creating a marketable identity for places and cities.

Over the past 30 years in my practice as a curator of places, public art has expanded from a single-object commission to public art master planning for whole cities and dividing the role of the public art consultant into curator and project manager. However, the most notable change over this period has been the requirement that public art engenders a brand image for the project, place, or benefactor. Instagram moments, the ‘wow factor’ and ‘return-on-investment’ have entered the design brief for public art curating. This, combined with a new politicised public demanding more from their social gathering places, is projecting public art to a heightened significance.

The curator of public art, now tasked with the responsibility to navigate both ‘art’ and ‘publicness’ with all its attendant complexities and competing interests, social and economic responsibilities, must interrogate whose narrative is privileged. And as people vote with their feet, powerfully demonstrating where they want to work, live and visit, it is not by accident that people choose to inhabit the places where the aesthetics of their environment nourishes their soul. 

Place The Economy Vol. 3 by Andrew Hoyne Designis a book that showcases the significance of place and community for humans. It features over 80 stories by 100 experts, celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make cities great. It also addresses the challenges communities face globally.

Learn more about the book here.

Images courtesy of UAP | Urban Art Projects.

J.Mayer H. and Partners - XXX Times Square with Love | Kehinde Wiley - Rumors of War | Paul Cocksedge Studio - Time Loop | Tom Claassen - 4 Rabbits Thinking About Carrots, The Sun and The Moon | Florentijn Hofman - Kraken | Emily Floyd - Mangrove Poem | Todd Robinson - Oooh Aaah

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