Not much money then? Especially if you take the £15,000 cost and then divide it by the city’s population of 400,000. You actually end up with a cost of just under 4p per person.
But maybe there’s some other issues to consider here?
Firstly, there’s the small matter of where the money seems to have come from within the council. UWE’s Situations, who commissioned the shed, tell us it came from the Parks section, the Urban Design Unit and the Sustainable Development Unit.
None of whom usually provide grants to outside bodies, which begs the question of how on earth did UWE manage to access council cash from specialist city council service delivery sections when you or I apparently can’t?
It also begs the question – if the city council has various sections quietly sat on big lumps of cash for public art and any old officer-led specialist project they feel like – of why this money isn’t used first for democratically agreed popular public art projects?
Because on two occasions now, once on 11 October 2005 and again 1 April 2008, the Full Council – where our elected representatives are supposed to hold sway – has agreed motions to create a permanent monument to the Bristolian Second World War vet Field Marshall Bill Slim and his “Forgotten Army“.
In 2005 they all agreed:
a statue or other permanent memorial to Field Marshal William Joseph Slim, is long overdue in Bristol, the city of his birth.
Then back they came again in 2008 after nothing much had happened:
Council reaffirms its commitment to commemorate Field Marshall Lord Slim by the installation of a prominent and permanent memorial in the city.
And while they waited interminably for this fitting monument they also agreed:
that Council endorses the on-going process of installing a memorial plaque at the Cenotaph, in the centre of Bristol in recognition of those Bristolians who fought in the Fourteenth Army, and to which the Council is contributing £12,000
So that means more money has been quietly allocated by officers behind the scenes to a couple of “internationally acclaimed artists” no one’s ever heard of to build a temporary roofless shed in Victoria Park for no reason than has actually been spent on a fitting memorial to a Bristolian war hero and his men.
This is despite the constant demands that something significant be done by our democratically elected representatives, the increasingly pissed off Burma Star Association and the wider Bristolian public.
Now admittedly, at the last Full Council Meeting in 2008 councillors also agreed that they would make a further £58k available for this monument with these conditions:
that Council … offers its support for and contribution to any public subscription campaign organised by the local press to provide such a monument.
Unfortunately over 18 months on and there’s still no sign of this monument is there?
But why the hell are we sitting about endlessly waiting for public subscriptions to build this thing when it appears that various council managers are sat on substantial sums of money for just such purposes?
Isn’t it time our councillors found out how many of their managers have access to little £5k pots of cash for ‘art’ purposes they’re not telling anyone about? Then perhaps they should take our money back and use it for the one art project they and the rest of us in Bristol actually want.
And before the contemporary art crowd wafts on here sneering at soldiers and statues and telling us what a bunch of Daily Mail worshiping conservatives we all are compared to them, they might do well to find out a bit about Bill Slim.
Not only is he the kind of character that does the dirty work so that congenital idiots educated way beyond their abilities can ponce about in total freedom claiming any old shit is art, he also came to lead from a relatively modest background a victorious multicultural (before the word was invented) working class army who had nothing but respect for him.
In comparison to Slim and his men, your average publicly funded contemporary artist is a pointless wanker. Something this monument, if it ever arrives, will hopefully demonstrate.