If you are an organisation looking to install public art, you can work with artists in a number of different ways. You can:

  • commission artists to produce work to a brief
  • offer artists a residency during the course of a development
  • appoint an artist as a member of the scheme design team

Help with commissioning

Our Economic Development and Implementation Team can help you to secure public art. They can put you in touch with specialists who can advise on how to install the most appropriate form of public art. This includes:

  • advice on the best medium to use
  • guidance on how to draw up a shortlist and select an artist
  • project managing the commission
  • acting as an agent for the client in working with the artist

The role of the architect

Your architect will usually be best placed to assess possible types of art and where to place it sympathetically within the scheme. 

Ideally, an artist will work alongside the architect and the design team.

The artist’s brief

The artist’s brief is important to help clarify the type of artist you need. The brief sets important aspects of the project, such as:

  • the theme
  • the location
  • the budget
  • as who will act as client for the artist
  • how the local community will be involved in the creative process

The brief will allow creative freedom within parameters. It helps the commissioner know what is being taken on. You can commission a specialist agency or an artist to prepare a public art brief on your behalf. You should consult as many relevant people as possible at the briefing stage rather than at the proposal stage.

Choosing themes

Your public art should be based on themes relevant to the site. This could be the nature of the building, land use or local activity and history. 

We may encourage particular forms of art in line with our cultural strategy and public art strategy.

Public involvement and consultation

You have to consult with the public if an artwork requires planning permission in its own right.

We recommend that you clarify parameters by carrying out consultation at the brief preparation stage. This will help avoid criticisms based on personal taste, which can happen if you only consult at the artist’s proposal stage.

We also encourage artists to involve the local community when developing the artwork, as it is the best way to gain public awareness and support.

The decision-making process

Key decisions should be taken by:

  • the organisation
  • the architect
  • a planning officer
  • a local representative (wherever possible)

This includes decisions on the content of a brief, selection of an artist and approval of the work.

Once you have agreed on the theme, location, artist and budget, you should not allow bureaucratic concerns to interfere with the creative process.

Using local artists

We encourage you to use local artists from Chelmsford or Essex. However, you can choose an artist from outside the area if the work needs a specialist. We also encourage work by famous artists from elsewhere.

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