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The Art Trust's Big Art Debate

Can the Public be Trusted to Choose Public Art? – The Art Fund's Big Art debate at the RSA

Chair: Jon Snow. Panelists: Jonathan Jones – art critic for The Guardian, Munira Mirza – Cultural Adviser to the Mayor of London, Grayson Perry – Turner Prize winning artist, Andrew Shoben – greyworld.

Art for our public spaces is chosen by 'experts' and committees. The public rarely has a say in what goes where. So should the public choose public art? What would happen if they did?

The vote at the end of the Art Fund's heated Big Art debate, hosted by the RSA Arts and Ecology Project on 20 May 2009, showed that opinion in the audience had not changed significantly from a show of hands at the beginning. Slightly more were in favour of the motion than against it, but opinion hinged on the timing and nature of the public's involvement. View video extracts from the debate below.

The full debate can be downloaded as an audio file at the RSA's website.

The Panel The Panel
Jon Snow summarises the positions of the panel and Andrew Shoban argues with Grayson Perry about popular artists like Jack Vettriano.

Experts and Commissions Experts and Commissions
Audience members, including Andrew White of Arts Council England talk about the role of experts in consultation with the artist and public.

What is Public? What is Public?
Towards a definition of 'public' art and artists' responsibilities to their audience.

Looking Through Whose Eyes? Looking Through Whose Eyes?
Ex-miner Gary Conley talks about his group's experience of working with artist Jaume Plensa in St. Helens and Munira Mirza discusses public art and regeneration.

Can Art be Trusted? Can Art be Trusted?
Does it really work? Grayson Perry wants to see real statistics on the effect of public art on communities. Munira Mirza talks about commissioning public art and our ownership of public spaces.

Will it be Remembered? Will it be Remembered?
Jonathan Jones speaks out against mediocrity and believes that great art comes from giving artists their own creative freedom.

It's Not Beige! It's Not Beige!
Andrew Shoben believes that Grayson and Jonathan misrepresent the role of the artist in the process and asks the audience to recognise the advantages of consultation.

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