Maintenance of Public Art - Comparative Report


This case study provides a glimpse of how three local authorities – Exeter City Council, Manchester City Council and Gateshead Council – maintain the public art in their care. The emphasis is on permanent outdoor artworks.

It’s clear there are many challenges. Subjects raised include:

  • how maintenance budgets are organised
  • how the future maintenance of new commissions is planned
  • how different levels of risk are assessed
  • how problems are reported
  • how vandalism can be prevented
  • whether or not to insure
  • whether maintenance work should be undertaken in-house or outsourced

There’s also the question of who takes responsibility for the care of artworks that have been commissioned by different bodies. And, in particular, the vexed issue of how councils can be saddled with this responsibility by default.

There are a few ideas, too, about how community groups and other stakeholders – who are increasingly involved in the process of commissioning artworks – could be encouraged to look after them too.