Public Art South West: What We Do

Public Art South West (PASW) is recognised as one of the leading public art development agencies in the UK.

Primarily serving the South West of England, its work extends beyond geographical boundaries in terms of the critical thinking and application of artists' skills and creativity it promotes. It works with artists and national and regional public and private sector organisations across Britain, and actively networks with a range of professions within art, design and architecture.

PASW's work encompasses a wide range of places and spaces including regeneration schemes in urban and rural areas, arts in hospitals and other healthcare environments, educational buildings of all kinds, industrial, commercial and retail settings, housing developments, protected built and natural environments and the transport infrastructure.

It aims to:

  • create opportunities for artists and craftspeople to contribute to the creation of built and natural spaces
  • encourage quality and innovation
  • provide an advisory service and resource on all aspects of good practice within the field of public art
  • stimulate critical debate and encourage new skills
  • forge new working partnerships

PASW's work covers five main areas: advocacy, planning and development, training for artists and commissioners, advice and support and information and resources. A pro-active approach in initiating projects and ways of working is underpinned by being able to offer financial support to a range of strategically important projects and partners in the region.

  • Advocacy: to raise awareness in local authorities, the health sector, other public and private sectors, developers and commissioners of the value of public art and the range of opportunities it offers; to advise on strategies for public art provision utilising Percent for Art and to advise on projects which integrate the work of artists and craftspeople into the design and regeneration of urban and rural areas.
  • Planning and development: to provide a strategic overview of public art provision in the South West and to contribute to the national overview; to develop and service a regional network of professional advice and expertise to meet the region's differing needs in relation to public art initiatives.
  • Training: to initiate training projects for commissioners and design professionals on the value and benefits of working with artists; to provide training for artists and craftspeople to equip them for working in this field; to stimulate debate through raising critical awareness in the form of seminars and conferences.
  • Advice and support: to provide advice and support on the development and implementation of public art strategies and Percent for Art policies; to support the involvement of experienced public art consultants and project managers; to provide seed funding for new public art initiatives and dedicated public art posts.
  • Information and resources: is a unique website and is an international intellectual resource which provides a research based forum for debate. It received over 1 million page views in 2007.

It is a priority for PASW to promote and support good practice in public art and it therefore works with those who share its commitment to projects which demonstrate the following criteria:

  • involve artists at the earliest stage
  • promote quality, innovation and flexibility in terms of the artist's role
  • have the support of and involve the community
  • have a regional and national significance
  • promote equality of opportunity, encourage cultural diversity and address social exclusion.

Further Information 


  • PASW has a small managed budget from which grants can be made to support the development of long term initiatives in public art, for example:
  • seed funding a healthcare public art programme, especially where a new building or major refurbishment is planned
  • funding a consultancy or feasibility study that may lead to a significant commitment to the commissioning of artists eg within a new Capital Programme for Schools
  • assisting with the fees for an artist to be involved in a new project design team
  • contributing towards a lead artist, whose remit is to develop a public art brief/commission
  • supporting the development of a public art strategy within a local authority
  • seed funding a public art post within a local authority or strategically important public organisation
  • supporting conferences or seminars which encourage critical debate about public art practice
  • devising and supporting specialist Continuing Professional Development courses for planning and design officers and artists

Due to the limited budget available, priority is given to projects which ensure the integration of artists and craftspeople at the earliest possible planning stage and which meet the criteria set out above. The capital costs of commissioning cannot be supported.

The budget for 2007/8 is circa £35,000.

Advice and Information

  • Website

    The website is a unique on-line resource from Public Art South West and is aimed at anyone wishing to further the boundaries of public art practice. The site contains detailed national and international case studies, information on where to see public art projects in the region and elsewhere, legal, policy and commissioning advice, events, activities and new publications, news from around the region, national and international news and useful links to other relevant sites.

  • Information sheets

    PASW has a wide range of information available on all aspects of public art, from sample committee papers relating to Percent for Art, Supplementary Planning Guidance and public art strategies, legal advice, and perspectives from artists/architects collaborations, to lists of helpful publications, slide libraries and public art agencies, consultants and lead artists. These information sheets are constantly being developed and added to.

  • Advice

    The Director of PASW, Maggie Bolt, can advise on strategic development, on the formulation of public art policies, on how public art can be integrated into Local Plans, on Public Realm Strategies, Development Briefs, Supplementary Planning Guidance and Urban Design Frameworks. She is also available to make presentations and advise on the commissioning process from drawing up a brief to selecting an artist. Whilst it is not always possible to make visits to discuss specific projects, every effort will be made to advise by telephone, email or letter. PASW does not project manage but can provide detailed advice and information on how to identify and select experienced public art consultants or lead artists.

  • Planning Resource

    In March 2007 we launched a planning resource as part of our package of specialist advisory services. We are now able to offer more comprehensive advice on all aspects of securing public art through the planning system. A key element of the work of the resource will be to secure artists' involvement and integration in new developments as identified by the Regional Spatial Strategy.

Identifying Artists

PASW does not recommend individual artists, rather it advises and works in partnership with commissioners on ways to identify and select the most appropriate artists for the commissioning opportunity. As part of this role, it maintains an information sheet on artists' slide databases around the country.

Due to competing demands on our budget from Spring 2008 we are no longer able to run bi-annual network meetings or produce our newsletter. Instead we will be looking to initiate occasional bespoke events and conferences on key areas and topics.

Additional PASW Information Sheets available:

Managing Public Art Projects: A Handbook for Artists (Revised 2006)

Public Art South West General Information

Commissioning Agencies, Public Art Consultants and Lead Artists

The Healthcare Sector

When the Architects Leave: Maintaining Artwork in the Hospital Environment

Guidelines for Commissioning and Selecting Artists and Craftspeople

Examples of Public Art in the South West


Artists' Directories

Public Art and Local Authorities

Undertaking a Commission – Guidance Notes for Artists, Noel Perkins

Public Art Courses

Sources of Funding for Public Art

Public Art Commissions – Good Practice by Henry Lydiate

Collaboration – An Architect’s Perspective by Nick Childs

Notes on Collaborative Practice - Architecture and Craft

Works of Joint Authorship – Copyright Guidance by Henry Lydiate

The Private Finance Initiative – How Arts Add Value

Insurance for Artists

Public Liability and Professional Indemnity for Artists by Henry Lydiate

a-n The Artists Information Company

Collaboration - The Art Consultant's Perspective by Sam Wilkinson

Collaboration - An Artist's Perspective by David Patten

Consultation in Public Art Practice by Hazel Colquhoun

Be Prepared! Decommissioning Public Art by Hazel Colquhoun

Artists in the Public Realm Health and Safety by Emma Larkinson

The Art of Illumination: What role do artists play in lighting our public realm? by Oliver Bennett

Sculpture Trails

For further information, email: [email protected]