Calls to put Glenrothes town art cash to ‘better use’

Councillors want to suspend town art provision and put the funds to other uses
Councillors want to suspend town art provision and put the funds to other uses
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The approval of a new £10.5m care home in the town has thrown up the unlikely debate over the future commitment to Glenrothes’ respected history for creating town art.

For the decision to grant approval to a new care village in Napier Road comes with a planning condition seeking at least one per cent of the construction costs to be provided for public art – a figure that could bein the region of £105,000.

Town artist Malcolm Robertson with his Glenrothes statue 'Children of the World' November 1989

Town artist Malcolm Robertson with his Glenrothes statue 'Children of the World' November 1989

But now two of the town’s prominent councillors, Labour’s Altany Craik and SNP’s Ross Vettraino, are calling for Fife Council’s policy on public art obligations to be revised so the money can be better spent, as they see it, on more worthwhile and necessary issues locally.

“In an ideal world, we would afford to earmark this sort of money to art projects.

“But, in the tough economic climate we all live in, that simply is not sustainable,” Mr Craik told the Gazette.

“The Council is often seen as wasteful with its finances and this will help reinforce that view.

This is not the time to be spending over £100,000 on something that is neither necessary nor affordable

Cllr Ross Vettraino

“I’m from Glenrothes and am fully mindful of the value of the town’s rich public art history.

“But, in a time when we have people going hungry and struggling to make ends meet, spending a large amount of money, as it is in this case, on art means we have the wrong priorities.”

Cllr Vettraino echoed his colleague’s view adding: “The Council has to reduce its budget by £70 million over the next three years and is already cutting services and eliminating jobs.”

“This is not the time to be spending over £100,000 on something that is neither necessary nor affordable.

“The money would be better spent on helping those who are suffering as a consequence of the economic climate.

“However desirable public art may be, it simply cannot be afforded at this time.”

Glenrothes trailblazing history of promoting the value of town art

The town has blazed a trail in what can be achieved in respect to social or town art since the Glenrothes Development corporation appointed David Harding the first town artist in 1968.

During the next 10 years, until his departure in 1978, he produced a diverse and thought-provoking collection of art, much of which was positioned in precincts and estates, rather than public highways and more traditional sites normally expected of public art.

Malcolm Robertson took over in 1978 and carried on the ethos of town art until 1991.

The first sculpture erected in Glenrothes was ‘Ex Terra’, created by Benno Schotz, while Edinburgh-based sculptor Ronald Rae created ‘The Good Samaritan’ sculpture in Riverside Park for the town’s 40th anniversary.