Public art is public waste


Having wasted £1.4m on the complete failure that is B of the Bang, Manchester City Council has decided that no more public money will be spent on the project. It is a little late for that. Whenever the words ‘public’ and ‘art’ are heard falling from the lips of those in charge of spending our cash, you know disaster is just around the corner. B of the Bang is just one of many. Of late we have seen much brass been burnt at the altar of art.

Firstsite is supposed to be Colchester’s first ‘Visual Arts Facility' – every town should have one. Originally it was going to be built for a paltry £16.5 million and open in 2007. Instead, following mammoth delays, it will end up costing in excess of £25 million, with Essex County Council needing to strip its taxpayers of a further £2 million just to keep it going. It is however free to enter, unless of course you're a taxpayer in Essex, in which case you have already paid for it (and some).

The Wigan Pier Quarter Interpretation Project is a £36,000 plan to erect four life-size statues at Wigan Pier. Guess who is putting in a wheelbarrow or two of cash for this? Wigan taxpayers along with the good taxpayers of Europe through the European Regional Development Fund. What about the poor people of the small Welsh town of Cardigan? They certainly don’t want the Big Art Project on their shores. I doubt Welsh taxpayers want to plough in £50,000 either, and i'm quite sure the rest of us don’t want the state subsidized Channel 4 to spend money making them angry.

Even Antony Gormley, who has received taxpayers money, does not like the way the success of his Angel of the North has been as a precedent to encourage people and local authorities looking for European funding or investment.

It need not be this way. The Giant White Horse in the south of England will be built by private money. Whether or not you think it's a good idea to build a giant white horse in a field, at least you won't be footing the bill for it.