This paper discusses how the purposes of public art are understood in official discourses. Discourses legitimise desired courses of action, such as whether public art is commissioned compared to other spending priorities, and the processes that surround its use as a type of intervention. The multiple meanings attached to this art genre constitute it as an argumentation field with alternative and possibly conflicting objectives. This makes it particularly interesting to approach public art sociologically as a constructed practice. The focus of the study is a local authority with an international reputation for public art: Gateshead in England, home to Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North. The study sourced a range of municipal documents and undertook an analysis informed by a grounded theory approach to identify important themes and connections between them. Four coherent discourses are revealed, not easily discernible from the often fragmented references to public art across various schemes, projects and strategies described in the documents. These were ‘venue’, ‘inclusion’, ‘quality of life’, and ‘civic pride’. The paper shows how these discourses relate to wider sociological and policy concerns, especially regarding municipal improvement.
|Keywords:||Public Art, Municipality, Policy, Discourse|
Postgraduate Research Student, School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK
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