At the next Committee of the Whole meeting, Council will be asked to approve a Policy for Public Art in Victoria Hall. Intended for public areas only (not employee working areas), Council asked for the development of a policy when Marie Dressler Foundation Chair Rick Miller asked why a picture of Marie Dressler was removed from the Citizen’s Forum at the request of the Victoria Hall Volunteers (see link below). It seemed there were two reasons for their objection: Marie was not connected with Victoria Hall and the Citizen’s Forum was their meeting room! The implication is that the policy should restrict art to be related to Victoria Hall, especially in the Citizen’s Forum, but the new policy does not say that.
The proposed Policy says that in designated public spaces only the following may be installed:
- art work from the Town collection, AGN collection
- photos and painting of civic officials
- framed archival materials including documents and photos which relate significantly to the Town’s heritage.
- those items that are necessary for the operation of the municipality such as maps, announcements, awards etc.
No mention of restricting art unrelated to Victoria Hall; no mention that the Citizen’s Forum “belongs” to the Victoria Hall Volunteers. There is no specific “designation” of Public Areas other than a generalized statement: “These spaces include the atrium, Council Chambers, corridors, grand hall, court room, meeting rooms, staircases.” (Download proposed policy from link below.)
The new policy “designates the office of the CAO to manage the selection, installation and care of materials hung or to be selected to be hung in the Hall” and in a later paragraph: the “Chief Administrative Officer hereby designates the Municipal Clerk to implement and administer the terms of this policy”. The Policy also asks the CAO to negotiate an agreement with the AGN for them to manage the Town of Cobourg’s collection of “various pieces of Art or Artworks (acquired) either from donation or through purchase”. There is also a provision that the policy should be reviewed one year after the implementation of the Cultural Master Plan.
So if the policy is approved, will Rick Miller then be able to ask for Marie’s picture to be re-instated in the Citizen’s Forum? How does the Policy help the Municipal Clerk (or CAO) decide? On what basis could he refuse?
- Proposed Policy – Victoria Hall Art Policy
- Where has Marie Dressler’s Picture Gone? – 25 June 2018
- Original unveiling of picture in Citizen’s Forum – 13 December 2016