Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Nottingham City Council Supports Nottingham Culture....oh

Nottingham City Council has paid £22k for a photograph by the artist Sam Taylor-Wood, to be exhibited at the the Castle Museum from yesterday.

The piece, called 'Escape Artist (multicoloured)' is, apparently, both "ambiguous and playful". So that's alright then.

You may remember that I recently highlighted NCC's attempt to save a few bob by shamelessly exploiting flickr members, asking them to provide their work for free to be used on a campaign on the city's bus stops. Not surprisingly this latest move has triggered off a little bit of discussion.

However, never let it be said that I'm not a fair man so I must point out the lion's share of the cost was covered by external grants. However this still left NCC covering £3000 towards the cost. Flickr members were asking for payments in the region of £50 per shot. For most it would have been their first 'commission' and as such could have been a source of pride rather than exploitation. It would also have meant that NCC was supporting Nottingham artists and would have bought them a huge amount of goodwill. £3000 would have probably also paid for a decent end of campaign exhibition which was the other 'benefit in kind' that flickr members were suggesting as an alternative to a direct payment.

A backdrop to this is the recent announced intention to close the Industrial Museum. Now of course grant aid is very specific and only the £3k from NCC's own coffers could have been potentially available for the Industrial Museum. But applying for grant aid is time consuming and I wonder what on earth NCC's culture staff are doing running round after grants to buy trophy art with no connection to Nottingham instead of working on keeping Nottingham's heritage accessible to us all? Who decided that should be a priority?

Interestingly, the local history bods I linked to above note that the 2009/10 budget proposes possible trust management arrangements for cultural services. This has been tried in a number of areas but I'm not sure its gone that well. Certainly when I was working at Leicester City Council there was an attempt to transfer cultural services to a charitable trust. However, the savings expected would have been wiped out by even the tiniest overspend and the idea was quietly dropped. This is one to watch I reckon.


bulcote cowboy said...

Hi. I do like your blog. I think it's important that you are clear in your copy that NCC are paying 3000 of the 22000 for the picture. But that's not what your headline says. It says NCC is paying 22000. Not true. But it's the bit that is read by more people, not least because that's the bit that gets picked up by google alerts, rss feeds etc. Would you think about changing it?

Andy said...

The headline actually says "Nottingham City Council Supports Nottingham Culture...oh"

In the copy I say that NCC is paying £22k for the pic which technically is true (that's the first line of the copy not the headline). I then go on to point out that most of it is covered by grants leaving a residual £3k to be found from central NCC funds.

Not really sure what you've got to complain about there.

Glad you like the blog tho.