Tofino will prepare a public art policy to help avoid hullabaloos like the one sparked by the Weeping Cedar Woman statue.
Coun. Cathy Thicke brought the motion forward at a recent council meeting and said a public art policy would ease discussions surrounding the acquisition of public art.
She also noted the districtâ€™s Arts and Culture Master Plan, adopted in December, recommends establishing a public art policy.
â€œOn account of those two things I think itâ€™s appropriate now to consider the public art policy and that we put some funding towards it because I donâ€™t believe it is within the staff capacity to undertake this,â€ she said.
â€œI recognize that itâ€™s a little bit of a chicken and egg scenario itâ€™s not a perfect world perhaps it would have been best if this had been developed last year but weâ€™re a community of 1,876 people with a small staff and budget and weâ€™re working really hard to do things right but it doesnâ€™t always work out perfectly.â€
Council voted to have staff prepare a draft policy for councilâ€™s consideration but balked at hiring a consultant to do the work.
Thickeâ€™s motion had suggested the district allocate up to $5,000 towards creating the policy.
â€œI donâ€™t believe that it will take anywhere near that amount but I just wanted to put a round number there for consideration,â€ she said.
Coun. Duncan McMaster supported developing a public art policy but doubted $5,000 would be needed.
He said he had reviewed various public art policies used by communities throughout Canada and the United States and he believed all were within Tofinoâ€™s internal capacity.
â€œI donâ€™t think itâ€™s an exaggeration to say that 90 per cent of them are all the same so to pay $5,000 for a cut and paste job…I realize staff are busy but Iâ€™d like to think there was enough interested councillors or individuals that might be prepared to take this on,â€ he said.
Coun. Dorothy Baert suggested the district could draw from the expertise within Tofinoâ€™s community but cautioned that developing the policy may be beyond the volunteer sectorâ€™s scope.
Coun. Al Anderson said he needed more information before voting on any allocation of funding including an examination of how the policy would fit with other district policies.
He noted a public art policy might not exclusively deal with sculptures like the Weeping Cedar Woman but also live performances and other artistic endeavors.
â€œI do want to move on this but there are a couple things Iâ€™d like to further explore,â€ he said.
Osborne suggested council could give staff the go ahead to begin working on a policy and remove the $5,000 allocation from the motion.
â€œI feel like thereâ€™s general consensus that â€˜yesâ€™ council wishes to move ahead with developing a public art policy and I think we should get that underway today,â€ she said. â€œI hear the conversation about determining how that can be done and sources of funding for that or whether any staff resources exist for that.â€
Council agreed to approve the motion without the funding allocation and district CAO Bob MacPherson said staff would begin crafting the policy and bring a report back to council if any additional resources are needed.
Earlier in the meeting Tofino local Menno van Barneveld presented as a delegation regarding the potential public art policy.
Van Barneveld recently spoke out against the districtâ€™s actions surrounding the potential acquisition of the Weeping Cedar Woman statue and he stressed to council that public art should go through a legitimate public consultation process.
â€œThere are many creative people and local artists that arenâ€™t members of art societies and organizations that should be able to voice their opinion,â€ he said. â€œThe citizens of this community should have first hand involvement in the public art approval process, not just a small group of friends should decide how this town is decorated.â€
His presentation included examples of public art in other communities some popular and some not.
He cited a Traveling Light sculpture in Calgary, which was selected by a citizen-panel and cost the city about $471,000 but has since become unpopular with citizens including Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Van Barneveld said music is a â€œuniversal art formâ€ and should be included in the realm of public art.
He requested council kick off a fundraiser and allocate funding towards bringing the band Sick Of It All to Tofino; he showed a music video for the bandâ€™s song District during the meeting.
He also requested council send a letter to the Westerly News because he believes locals who come forward to present to council get â€œsmearedâ€ by the local reporter.
Council did not make motions regarding either of these requests but received van Barneveldâ€™s presentation as information.