Planning the Art Plan - Workshop #4

04 Dec 2019
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

On Tuesday, September 24, a group of professional artists and art business people gathered and discussed some initial components of a comprehensive Public Art Plan for the City of Vancouver.

Following is a summary of what we discussed, and after reading the summary, we invite you to give us some feedback!

How does the City site art? What if art needs to be moved?

Artwork in the Public Art Collection must be placed in the public right of way or a public building. Any work of art in the Public Art Collection may be moved throughout City of Vancouver facilities at the discretion of the Cultural Services staff, taking into account requests from individual departments. Site-specific artwork may be considered for relocation for one or more of the following reasons:

1. The condition or security of the artwork can no longer be reasonably assured at its current site

2. The site has changed so that the artwork is no longer compatible as placed

3. The artwork has become a danger to public safety in its current site

Before a move is made, the city will attempt to contact and coordinate with the original artist and/or donor of the artwork. Every effort will be made to move the art to a new location that is consistent with the original intent of the art, e.g. if a work of art was designed to be viewed along the waterfront, the city will seek a new location for the work also along a waterfront. Additionally, effort will be made to ensure the same level or increase the level of public visibility for the art.

Deaccessioning Policy and Procedures

Deaccessioning is the process of removing artwork from the Public Art Collection. This policy recognizes that over time there may be reasons to deaccession artworks. Deaccessioning is considered only after careful and impartial evaluation of artworks within the context of the Collection. At the beginning of the process, the Cultural Services staff makes reasonable efforts to notify any living artist whose work is being considered for deaccession.

Recommendations related to deaccessioning are made to City of Vancouver’s Culture, Arts & Heritage Commission by the Public Art Committee, according to the following guidelines:

· In considering an object for deaccessioning, the Culture, Arts & Heritage Commission must always be aware of its role as trustee of the Collection for the benefit of the public.

· Generally, artworks are acquired for perpetuity and not with the thought of disposal. At issue is the Culture, Art s& Heritage Commission’s responsibility to the community, its donors, and the public.

· Objects in the collection should be retained permanently if they continue to be useful to the purposes and activities of the Culture, Arts & Heritage Commission and the Collection, if they continue to contribute to the integrity of the Collection, and if they can be properly stored, preserved, used, and exhibited.

Artwork may be deaccessioned when conditions require or when such action would improve or refine the Public Art Collection. Reasons for deaccessioning may include but are not limited to situations where:

· The use of the site has changed, the artwork is no longer appropriate, and the artwork cannot be reasonably protected or maintained

· A work is not or is rarely on display for lack of a suitable site

· The artwork’s annual maintenance cost is deemed excessive

· The artwork has been damaged beyond reasonable repair

· The artwork requires extensive conservation or restoration that is cost-prohibitive

· The artwork is deemed inappropriate or requires removal because of new developments in the direction of the Public Art Collection

· The site of a site-specific artwork is no longer owned by the city of Vancouver

· The artwork endangers public safety and there is no alternative placement or site to mitigate the risk to public safety

· The site of a site-specific artwork is so severely altered that the work no longer is physically possible or conceptually relevant

· The artwork was commissioned or accepted with the provision or understanding that it was to have a limited life cycle or installation period

Deaccession of any artwork from the Public Art Collection is based on a written recommendation of the Cultural Services staff. The recommendation must specify reasons for the deaccession. The recommendation is then presented to the Culture, Arts & Heritage Commission. The Commission may approve the deaccession only upon a two-thirds majority vote. City and state regulations may apply when deaccessioning City property.

The manner of disposition should be in the best interest of the City of Vancouver and its residents. Disposition should occur as follows:

· Unless the Culture, Arts & Heritage Commission specifically determines an alternative means of disposition, all dispositions are by sale with the primary objective of obtaining the best possible price. Sales of artworks are allowed through public auction. Trade through artist, gallery, museum, or other institution for one or more other artworks of comparable value by the same artist is acceptable

· Artwork that was commissioned or accepted into the Public Art Collection as site-specific works may be destroyed in lieu of being sold or reinstalled at an alternative site. This process is known as decommissioning rather than deaccessioning. Generally, site –specific works are created for a specific location and are not appropriate for relocation

· In rare instances, the Cultural Services staff may recommend re-installation of artwork if its integrity and original intent or purpose can be preserved. When possible, this is done with the cooperation and supervision of the artist or the artist’s estate. Deaccessioning artworks may be placed in another institution where they serve a similar purposed to that for which they were originally acquired

· Regarding the sale or trade of artworks, the City of Vancouver offers the right of first refusal to the artist, if still alive, and/or the original donor if the artwork was a gift to the City. In the case of artwork by a living artist, an exchange may be made if appropriate

· Absent mandatory donor restrictions or requirements, City of Vancouver staff, elected officials , Commission members and their immediate family members (spouses and minor children and other family members who live at home) and other members of their immediate households and controlled entities may not be the purchasers or recipients of deaccessioned objects

Net proceeds from the sale of deaccessioned artworks are designated “for acquisition only” and must be used only for the growth or care of the Public Art Collection, consistent with acquisition procedures. The donor of a deaccessioned artwork that enters the Collection as a gift is fully credited in documentary files, in publications and on identifying labels for artwork purchased with proceeds of the sale. The purchased artwork, so credited, is labeled and identified as a “gift of [name of donor] by exchange.”

Conditions and circumstances of any deaccession are entered into the Collection’s permanent record. If possible, a file on the object is retained, including object and donor history, photographs, conservation/restoration records, appraisals, and other relevant records.

Collections Maintenance Responsibilities

The Cultural Services staff maintains an inventory of all artworks in the Public Art Collection. The inventory is conducted bi-annually, with updates reported to Risk Management Services for insurance purposes. Where possible, the inventory of artworks should include estimated valuations of objects in the Collection. New donations to the Collection require an appraisal at the time of the gift, typically provided and paid for by the donor. Valuations of artworks are established principally for insurance purposes.

The Cultural Services staff oversees the assessment, treatment, maintenance and relocation of artwork. Cleaning and repair of artworks in the Public Art Collection are completed by a roster of qualified on-call art conservators, who comply with currently accepted standards of care and conservation. A complete evaluation of all public art by a professional conservator is conducted every ten (10) years. This evaluation may cause changes to be made to the maintenance plans for each work of art.

The Cultural Services staff, in collaboration with the Facilities Department, coordinates repairs with the involvement of other art conservators or independent contractors as needed. Reasonable efforts are made to notify artists of repairs to their works.

Maintenance Procedures

Objects in the Public Art Collection require a wide range of care under the oversight of the Cultural Services staff. The staff creates a maintenance plan, which is updated bi-annually, to determine current and future collection needs. When available, funding is allocated by the Culture, Arts & Heritage Commission for framing, documenting and routine maintenance of artworks in the Public Art Collection. Secure storage is provided for artwork not on display. The Cultural Services staff works with the Public Art Committee to determine funding for special conservation or restoration projects outside the scope of routine maintenance.

A centralized computerized collections management system is used to inventory, photograph, document and track all artworks in the Public Art Collection. All documentation, both written and visual, is maintained in an easily retrievable format. Exhibited artworks are labeled with the title, artist and date of the work, at a minimum. At the discretion of the Cultural Services staff, artworks may be temporarily placed in storage or loaned to other institutions such as nonprofit galleries and museums.


The Culture, Arts & Heritage Commission is responsible for approving this Public Art Plan and all subsequent revisions. The Cultural Services staff for the City of Vancouver is charged with monitoring and implementing this policy and may review and propose revisions at any time. Revisions will not take effect until approved by the Culture, Arts & Heritage Commission. Minor updates that do not affect the plan itself (grammatical corrections, updated citations, updated dates, etc.) do not require approval.

Procedures used to implement this plan as prescribed in any section are exclusively the purview of the Cultural Services staff and do not require approval from the Culture, Arts & Heritage Commission.

At the end of our workshop

The group discussed ideas for a mission statement for the Public Art Plan.

Public comment is now closed.

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The community engagement portion of this project has been completed.

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