Draft Public Art Framework 2017 – 2022


The Public Art Framework 2017-22 (the Framework) re-establishes a public art programme for Dunedin, and outlines a new approach to us achieving ambitious outcomes.  It provides a way forward for funding and commissioning new public works, and looking after the existing collection, as well as establishing guidelines to ensure this process is consistent and transparent.

Public art is essential for a whole range of reasons and an indicator of how alive and creative a city and community are.  Public art can change conversations on agendas ranging from social, cultural and economic development to the challenges of sustainability and climate change.  Done well, public art can help redefine places and spaces within a city, how they are experienced and how people interact within them. It also helps support the development of communities.

What’s the vision for public art in Dunedin?

The Framework is part of the city-wide arts and culture strategy, Ara Toi Otepoti – Our Creative Future (Ara Toi).   Ara Toi sets a vision of Dunedin as:

‘One of the world’s great small cities with arts and culture at its core.’

Our vision is that public art will help transform Dunedin into a place that is even more extraordinary.  Through this Framework, the wish is to set high standards when it comes to creating great spaces that delight, intrigue and challenge those who adventure into them.  A strong public art programme will support the ambitions of Ara Toi; that is, to support the growth of Dunedin’s creative economy, connect communities with fresh thinking and imaginative solutions, and support access and inclusion by enabling everyone to freely experience great art in their public spaces.


In line with Ara Toi, the Framework specifically acknowledges the Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) and the relationship with Kai Tahu as well as the many other groups that contribute to the city’s unique heritage and cultural mix.  The Framework also respects the other cross-cutting principles of Ara Toi: partnership, sustainability, freedom of expression, and spirituality.

Our vision

Public art will help transform Dunedin into a place that is even more extraordinary, with great spaces that delight, intrigue and challenge those who adventure into them.

Our outcomes


What do we mean by ‘Public Art?’


Public art is original artwork commissioned, chosen or gifted for location in public environments, and created by an artist.  The Framework’s definition of public art is broad, inclusive and includes:

§ Artworks encompassing such art forms as sculpture, murals, street art, installations, relational aesthetics, photography, billboards, mosaics, performance, fibre art, digital and virtual art, neon works, sound works, light works, craft bombing, paving, original urban furniture, plantings or earthworks.

§ Permanent fixtures or artwork that is temporary in nature.

§ The results of artists participating in the design of urban spaces.

§ Artworks resulting from collaborations between artists and community groups in public spaces.

Public art works excluded from this framework include:

§ Artworks owned by Council and displayed in Council owned buildings.

§ Artworks in Council collections such as those held and housed by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, the Dunedin Public Library and Toitu Settlers Museum.  

§ Artworks in private collections, located on private land.

§ Artworks owned and maintained by crown departments or agencies.

Why is public art important?


Public art is a creative practice which helps define and public spaces

Helps shape identity

Plays a part in social, cultural and economic development of a city

Helps challenge perceptions


What are the challenges this Framework seeks to address?

This Framework addresses a number of challenges and opportunities identified through the Ara Toi public engagement conversations we had with the community.


Framework approach

Concerns that previous public art projects have been driven by particular agendas and that the commissioning process is flawed.

Ensure excellence and transparency in all public art activity, with a clear DCC role as part of an independent funding and commissioning model.

No clear advocates for growing Dunedin’s public art collection in a more cohesive way.

Advocate for the investment in public art.

Existing art works damaged as a result of poor knowledge and care.

Ensure ongoing management of the public art collection is joined-up and comprehensive, including the re-siting or decommissioning of work.

Variable quality of public art and perceived lack of innovation in recent years.

Strive for excellence by drawing upon the art expertise within the Dunedin community in the funding and commissioning model.

The public art collection is not diverse enough to represent modern Dunedin and its communities, e.g. Kāi Tahu is not highly visible.

Develop a public art programme that treasures the place of Kāi Tahu in the arts and culture landscape, and embraces cultural diversity in all its forms.


The heritage built environment is not enhanced and integrated in a creative, modern way when it comes to public art.

Use public art to create a sense of place and space, and engage with the past, present and future.

Perception of public art commissioning as a ‘closed shop’ and impenetrable to new ideas about what public art can be.

Push for, and be open to, new ideas and proposals from individuals, organisations and communities.

Decision making has often been politically expedient and focussed on the short term.


A longer term commissioning plan is set in place which will deliver outcomes which are relevant to future generations.

The community often only find out about public art projects when they are installed and this has caused tensions in the past.

Engage a wide range of city and community stakeholders to support ownership of the city’s public art programme.


What’s the Action Plan?

A three-tiered approach for developing and delivering public art projects will be taken forward:

1.    Leadership and Strategic Partnerships

2.    Development of Ideas

3.    Profile and Engagement

Leadership and Strategic Partnerships

The DCC will foster relationships and strategic partnerships with external partners such as Dunedin’s arts networks, grant funding agencies, Government agencies and the private sector, to deliver major projects and enhance the profile of the city’s public art at a high level.

This will include: encouraging sharing of information and resources, and advocacy regarding best practice in the commissioning and delivery of new projects; and securing funding from a range of sources to support to the work.

Action 1:  Identify the appropriate model to commission public art.

Options for commissioning public art include:

Option One.

Forming, or working with an existing independent public art commissioning trust supported by and arts advisory panel that supports project selection.

The Trust, which should include a range of community viewpoints and skillsets, members from Kāi Tahu and private patrons, will report to the Creative Dunedin Partnership as the governance group for Ara Toi, and will be supported by the DCC’s Community Arts Advisors to ensure that the essential links between public art and civic functions are as effective as possible.

Appointment of Trustees

The Trust model is one that has been adopted in Wellington. The Wellington Sculpture Trust is a separate entity from the Wellington City Council (WCC), its trustees are not appointed by the WCC but by resolution of the Wellington Sculpture Trust Board.  Dunedin could follow a similar appointment model, or one that includes some appointments to be made by Council.


Option two.

In-house commissioning

Under this model a commissioning process would be undertaken by Council officers. There is sufficient expertise on staff in working with artists, commissioning arts projects which engage the public as well as delivering complex builds. Oversight of this process may rest with the Council or via the CEO. A comprehensive process of public engagement and communication would need to be part of this process to ensure transparency.


Option three. 

Commissioning panel with a membership with could include Councillors, Council officers as well as community and stakeholder representatives.

Under this option, a Commissioning Panel comprised of experts from within Council and the community would be formed. This is essentially a return to the public art panel model that commissioned public art in Dunedin prior to 2012.

Budget for commissions would remain within Council but the commissioning process would be run by a panel of art, design, and heritage experts both from within Council and the wider community as well as representatives of local iwi.  For this model to be successful, it would be imperative that such a panel take a long term and ambitious view during decision making when selecting new commissions.

Key performance outcomes:

1.    Longer term planning of public art projects.

2.    More diverse partnerships for public art projects.

3.    More funding leveraged from partners and the private sector.

4.    High quality public art.

5.    Raised community awareness of the public art programme.


Action 2: The DCC will work to maximise opportunities for linking the public art programme into the city’s decision-making and activities, including the DCC’s capital works and engagement programmes, in alignment with relevant city strategies and plans.

These opportunities include:


·    The Central City Plan

·    The city’s Strategic Cycle Network implementation

·    Ross Creek Reservoir upgrade

·    Harbourside plans

·    Engagement around climate change adaptation

·    South Dunedin community complex


Key performance outcomes:

1.    A new and specific Art in Public Place and Above Ground Infrastructure Policy adopted.

2.    Integrated programme planning processes, including the strategic use of key city budgets.

3.    Increased strategic involvement of creativity within key city projects.

4.    Increased public art opportunities for artists and other creative people.

5.    Increased public art across the city.


Development of Ideas

Work to ensure a dynamic programme by welcoming ideas and new thinking from a wide range of sources.  This will make use of platforms, both new (see Action) and existing e.g. (Urban Dream Brokerage), to explore new possibilities and expand the parameters of what is possible with the public art programme.


Action 3: Establish the Public Art Lab to generate and test ideas for new opportunities and encourage public engagement on possible new projects.

Working with a variety of community and education groups, the Public Art Lab will encourage the widest community ideas to be sought and tested in mini form, with an engaging process for narrowing down the field.  Links will be made with Action 2 to broaden the public’s understanding of potential areas of focus (e.g. the Harbourside).  The Lab will also seek to highlight and generate thinking about the critical role of public art in big picture changes for the community, from politics, to social change, to economic development.

Key performance outcomes:

1.    More ideas for public art.

2.    More critical thinking.

3.    Different voices in the community engagement process.

4.    Community pride in new public art commissions.

Action 4: Encourage temporary public art projects to ensure that the focus is not solely on permanent works.

These projects will cross the full-range of art forms, from performance and sound art to digital and virtual installations.  The city has a range of existing arts events in the form of the Fringe Festival, The Dunedin Arts Festival, Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival which could provide a successful platform to launch temporary public art outcomes.  This will require the Public Art Trust and Ara Toi Project Team, possibly working in conjunction a related festival, to be able to provide quick response support to make these projects happen.

Key performance outcomes:

1.    A diverse range of art forms, and lead project partners, are supported.

2.    The public realm is more accessible for creatives.

3.    More innovative projects are put forward.

4.    More connection is developed between the city’s ‘audiences’ and creatives.

Profile and Engagement

Use tools to raise the profile of the public art programme and support the strong relationships key to its success and ongoing development.  Enable the community to engage with the programme and cultivate a sense of place and community pride.

Action 5: Develop a communications plan that identifies the best channels to promote and profile the public art programme.

A brave and clear identity for Dunedin’s public art programme will enable audiences and creatives to be involved in public art, and the communications plan will map out how this can be done most effectively.

Key performance outcomes:

1.    Dunedin’s public art is profiled at the local, national and international level more often.

2.    Access to the programme’s opportunities and activities is easy, with all involved in Ara Toi’s delivery able to provide key information.

3.    New products are developed to support access and visibility of the public art programme (e.g. tourism public art apps).

4.    An online register of Dunedin’s public art collection is established.

Practical guidelines


The commissioning process

The process to commission permanent public art work is led by an independent commissioning entity in the form of a trust.

The Trust’s primary objective is to commission public works of art and has charitable status so it is able to receive grants and donations from a variety of sources, including an annual grant from the Dunedin City Council.

The Trust will formulate and work to a 3-5 year strategic commissioning plan which aligns with the Jin-McCormack public art vision report.   The commissioning plan should treat the city’s public art as a collection and new public art works should integrate holistically into the wider body of works.

In following a typical process for commissioning public art works, the Trust will call for expressions of interest from a small number of artists selected by the Trustees and its Arts Advisory Panel. The advisory panel is made up of arts practitioners, art museum professionals, and representatives from the architectural and urban design community.

Commissions may also be as a result of an Urban Dream Brokerage project, public feedback from the Urban Design Lab, an open competition, a general call for proposals, or as a result of an unsolicited approach made by an artist or group.  

The Trust will work closely and cooperatively with Council via a liaison officer to select potential sites for public art. Council supervises installation and becomes owner and caretaker of public art works once a defect liability period has elapsed.  

Council also provides expertise to the trust as part of the commissioning process on the availability and viability of locations, regulatory and consent requirements, as well as being part of conversations regarding artistic merit as well as any technical or maintenance requirements.  

Urban design and embedding public art into Council’s infrastructure works

There may be instances whereby public art is embedded into civil infrastructure works and selected artists may be invited to be part of Council teams delivering these projects. In these instances, given the special nature of the projects it should be the Council and not the public art trust that makes decisions around when to include a public art component into an infrastructure project and the selection of any artist to be involved.

Council resolved that all above ground physical projects include an art component in 2012, so all significant capital projects should include an aspect of public art within the project scope, or at least give consideration for an art component to be included. Budget considerations for any public art component should be included within the overall project budget.

In these instances the practicalities of selecting the artist, and the nature of their input will differ depending on the scope and scale of the project, so would need to be agreed on a case by case basis. When completed, the public art component of an infrastructure project should be treated with the same maintenance care as other forms of public art and not simply as “infrastructure”.


From time to time, gifts of public art will be offered to the Council.  It is important that these are evaluated with the same rigour, consistency and transparency as new commissions. The process to accept or decline gifts of public art would therefore need to go through the same selection and evaluation which is in place for new public art works.   

Temporary art and performance

Council encourages temporary public art which is lawful and does not contravene any bylaw or other regulation. In these instances Council does not require outside parties to go through public art approval processes but will work with artists and groups via the DCC Arts Team on a case-by-case basis.

Other public art projects out of the scope of this framework

As part of its responsibility towards providing leadership within the city Council officers will work collaboratively where possible with other partners in Dunedin to support, promote and facilitate all public art activity such as the street art projects in the warehouse precinct.

Roles and Responsibilities

Dunedin City Council

§ To approve this Public Art Framework document.


At officer level:


§ To work in a collaborative way to support public art activity.

§ To work to provide support and advice to the independent commissioning trust.

§ To work with artists and groups to facilitate short term or temporary projects.

§ To manage Dunedin’s public art collection with robust and inclusive asset management practices.


Community boards


If a public art work is proposed for a location within a community board area, the relevant community board will need to be engaged with as part of the decision-making process.


Independent commissioning Trust

§ To attain charitable status.

§ To work with the Council in locating suitable sites and environments for public art.

§ To adopt a commissioning strategy – with at least a 3-5 year outlook.

§ To receive annual Council funding for the implementation of its commissioning strategy.

§ To fundraise additional income from charitable grants and private philanthropic sources.

§ To form / work with a Council appointed advisory panel to identify and evaluate possible public art projects. This panel may include representatives of mana whenua, visual arts professionals, an architectural professional, an urban design professional, artists, Council arts and planning officers.

§ To work collaboratively with the Creative Dunedin Partnership.

§ To engage suitable artists to create public art as per the commissioning strategy.

§ To work in partnership with Council to oversee the installation of public art projects.

§ After agreed defect liability period, transfer all new public art projects into Council ownership.

§ To publicise its activities.


Art Advisory Panel

Comprising of arts practitioners, art museum professionals and members of the architectural, heritage planning and urban design community.


§ Shall advise and make assessments for the Trust on the suitability and or artistic merit of public art proposals or any other relevant advice the Trust may seek.


Creative Dunedin Partnership


§ Shall be the public art programme vision holders.

§ Shall receive regular reports from the Trust.

§ Shall in turn report back on all Public Art programmes to Dunedin City Council.

§ Shall provide advice on proposed projects and provide a conduit for liaison with sector and community groups.


Mana whenua


§ Shall be consulted with as a matter of course for all proposed commissions.



The Public Art Collection


Ownership of permanent public art will always be vested with the Dunedin City Council. Public artworks are significant community assets which need to be cared for, maintained and insured as part of wider asset management plans.  As the owner of the sites in which public artworks are located, Council needs, as far as is practicable, to maintain these locations in such a way as to allow for the work to continue to be appreciated by the public as the artist has intended.


The artist will always retain the moral right as the maker of the work.  The issue of copyright may be dealt with in the commissioning contract but unless otherwise agreed, the commissioning entity will be the copyright owner.

Care and maintenance  

The Council will ensure that each work is recorded in a central register with its location, material make up and condition and this shall be reviewed regularly. Asset management plans will identify maintenance, cleaning, replacement of parts or any other care required.  Works should have a realistic estimated expected lifespan from the artist.

The ongoing management of the Council’s public art collection requires a broad interdepartmental approach to ensure that all internal stakeholders are represented across the organisation. A public art management group shall be formed comprising of representatives from Parks Recreation and Aquatics, Arts and Culture, Events and Community Development, City Development, and Economic Development, as well as representation from Transport or other infrastructure teams as required. This group can provide oversight to the management of the public art collection. 

Council will commit to working with mana whenua to ensure that appropriate protocols are in place when caring for taonga, or other artworks which require this to be in place.

Re-siting, removal and decommissioning

Council seeks to retain the integrity of the public art in its collection as well the environments in which they are located; however, it acknowledges that our physical spaces in our city and the needs of our community may evolve in future.  From time to time, and in the event of such changes, it may be necessary to review the location, placement or even retention of a public art work.  In such cases Council will undertake a robust and consultative process to explore all options and will undertake to involve the artist or the artist’s family, the commissioning body, funders, artistic and technical experts as well as the wider community in this decision-making process. 

Removal and or decommissioning of a public artwork may also be required if  

§ it significantly needs repair or poses a health and safety hazard to the public.

§ it is damaged beyond repair.

§ the council is no longer able to guarantee its safe condition in its intended location.

§ its maintenance or conservation requirements exceed the agreed and understood levels at the time of commissioning.