The Taipei City Government’s distribution of public art installations has been biased against old districts and is a poor reflection on the city government’s urban planning, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) city councilors said.
The Department of Cultural Affairs has been over-dependent on grants from public funds and private enterprises, passive in its installation of public artworks, and negligent in its responsibility to provide coherent, long-term planning for their management and maintenance, Taipei City Councilor Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) said.
Hsu said that if it continues to fail, the department could become “the most uncouth in the city.”
Lee Wei-ti (李威蒂), a division head at the department, said that the agency has no say in the positioning of public art pieces when funding comes from the municipal public projects fund, which is outside departmental control.
Lee said older districts received little funding for public art from the city government because they were classified as developed areas.
Lee said that being fair to every district was a challenge, adding that in cases where funding came from the department’s own budget, it did prioritize making public art available in districts with fewer installations.
According to a review last year by the Audit Division, the city had 551 installations of public art, but a majority of them were installed in newer, more affluent districts.
Neihu District (內湖) had 118 installations, the most in the city, followed by Zhongzheng District (中正) with 61, the division said.
Songshan District (松山) had the least public art, just 15 installations, most of which are near the district’s peripheries, it said.
On average, there were 4.53 installations per square kilometer in Taipei City, but only 1.62 in Songshan, 2.03 in Wanhua District (萬華) and 1.84 in Shilin District (士林), significantly less than average, the division said.
From 2008 to last year, the Municipal Public Art Fund was used to finance 13 new installations of public art, but none went to Songshan or Shilin, according to the Audit Division.
DPP City Councilor Chen Tzu-hui (陳慈慧) said the distribution of public resources in Taipei is grossly unfair to older districts.
Chen urged the city to take the initiative on urban renewal, adding that public art installations in scenic areas, such as along river banks, could boost tourism.
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