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Public Art Commissioning Strategy and the use of S106 Funding for Public Art

Meeting: 21/03/2024 - Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee (Item 20)

20 Public Art Commissioning Strategy and the use of S106 Funding for Public Art pdf icon PDF 982 KB

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Councillor Pounds withdrew from the meeting for this item and did not participate in the discussion or decision making.


Matter for Decision

Following the approval of a Public Art Manifesto in March 2022, a Public Art Commissioning Programme had now been developed. This set out a package of future S106-funded projects in Cambridge, which would help the relevant time-limited public art developer contributions to be used effectively and on time. It featured new proposals for public art commissions.


The programme also included the public art commission at Nightingale Recreation Ground (Queen Edith’s ward) to which the Executive Councillor allocated £40,000 of S106 funding in January 2024. An artist was being commissioned to design and deliver bespoke artwork/s inspired by the recreation ground, its new pavilion and its community garden.


As well as developing the Commissioning Programme, the Council had undertaken a 2023/24 S106 public art grants round in order to be able to take stock of ideas from local communities for local public art projects and to support the timely and effective use of time-limited S106 funding.


Paragraph 5.2 of the Officer’s report featured a table that set out how emerging public art projects come together to form the overall programme, along with possible timescales for when these projects might be commissioned.


Decision of Executive Councillor for Communities

Agreed to:

      i.          Note the updated S106 funding availability analysis in Appendix A and the de-allocation of public art S106 funding from a number of a few projects that either stalled or were not taken forward (see paragraph 3.7 of the Officer’s report).

     ii.          Allocate a £30,000 S106-funded public art grant to the Menagerie Theatre Company for its ‘Trials of Democracy’ project, subject to business case sign-off, a public art grant agreement and project completion or significant progress within 18 months (see Section 4 and Appendices C and D).

   iii.          Allocate public art S106 funding to the following new public art projects, subject to further engagement with councillors, communities and professional artists and business case sign-off (see Section 5 and Appendix F of the Officer’s report).



Public art

S106 funding

More Playful Art, Please!

Up to £60,000

Urban Voices (four x phase 1 Area projects of up to £30,000, plus a phase 2 project)

Up £187,000

Romsey Recreation Ground

Up to £66,000


   iv.          Delegate authority to the Director of City Services, in consultation with the Executive Councillor and Opposition Spokes for Communities and the Chair of the Environment and Community Services Scrutiny Committee to add to the Commissioning Programme any time-limited opportunities for funding small-scale (under £30,000) public art projects opportunities may arise before the next Committee meeting in June 2024 (see paragraph 5.3 of the Officer’s report).

    v.          Approve the draft Public Art Commissioning Programme (see Appendix F of the Officer’s report).


Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.


Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.


Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Strategic Delivery Manager. He clarified that due to a communications glitch during the application process, Officers had not responded to one group’s email (Riverside Residents’ Association). Officers would contact the group to allow them to resubmit their application, so they were not disadvantaged.


The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

      i.          What could be done in future to rectify issues, so they did not occur again?

     ii.          How many applications were refused and what could be done about it?

   iii.          Suggested residents engaged with Ward Councillors to seek help with the application process. Recognised that Officers were tied by the legal/application process.


The Strategic Delivery Manager said the following in response to Members’ questions:

      i.          Referred to Appendix A of the Officers’ report which set out the process followed and how applications were considered.

     ii.          It was regrettable that not all projects could be approved. Each application had to be considered against the public art S106 funding criteria.


The Urban Growth Project Manager said that, having overseen every S106 funding round over the last twelve years, he was satisfied that the assessment of the public art applications received in the recent public art S106 funding grant round had been fair and consistent.


The Executive Councillor for Open Spaces and City Services said the City Council was looking at how to improve Environmental Improvement Programme and S106 funding processes. Various Councils across the country were also doing this.


The Committee resolved by 7 votes to 0 to endorse the recommendations.


The Executive Councillor approved the recommendations.


Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.