Westminster Public Art Advisory Panel to be abolished

The Public Art Advisory Panel is to be abolished after 14 years of successful work. Dedicated to choosing Art for public spaces, the expert opinions have been decisive in the commissioning of sculpture including the Nelson Mandela statue and the memorial to the victims of the July 7 bombings. Art experts advise whether public sculptures should be commissioned and it is apparent that no new publicly funded works will be on the cards during the stringent government cuts, presently rife in Westminster council. The Panellists feel the decision will badly damage the quality of art in the borough and though councillors sometimes ignored their recommendations, the experts made an important contribution to the advancement of culture in the borough. Maurice Blik, a sculptor who sits on the panel, said he feared “banal, safe, dreary and unambitious work” would be given the go-ahead once the experts are dismissed, after their final meeting this month. The panel includes about a dozen practising professionals from the worlds of art and architecture including Terry New, the head of sculpture from the Royal Academy Schools, Philip Davies, planning and development director from English Heritage and architect Sir Richard MacCormac.Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster, said the council had “excellent” officers to advise them. It is difficult to take on board the timing in view of the 2012 Olympics and the future of new Art in central London.