Housing estate left with ‘nothing to show’ for £10k public art handout
Housing estate residents have accused authorities of ‘frittering away’ £10,000 they wanted to fund a public work of art.
Cedars Park Residents Association insists the cash – paid to Mid Suffolk District Council by housing firm Crest Nicholson – should have been used for a permanent focal point.
But the Stowmarket estate was left ‘short changed’, said the group, when it emerged most of the money went on overheads and fees for a ‘reminiscence project’, involving schoolchildren and Cedrus House care home residents decorating leaves, writing poems and making Christmas crackers.
The council said it believed the funds – made available through a Section 106 planning obligation – were used appropriately.
But Roger Willison-Gray, residents association chairman, said the original terms of agreement stated that a selected artist would ‘personalise a piece of open space on the estate’ using materials with a sustainable focus, and that the work was ‘intended to be permanent’.
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The association’s copy of accounts showed the charity commissioned for the project, Suffolk Artlink, spent £136.81 on art materials and equipment.
Not including £1,200 for producing a display, exhibition or booklet, the rest went on overheads, management fees, travel expenses, artist’s pay, a photographer and catering.
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Mr Willison-Gray said: “We spent a lot of time working with Crest Nicholson to ensure we had the right amenities – and met the council to discuss a public art installation – but consultation stopped when the officer we dealt with went on leave.
“We were unaware of any procurement process – and then we saw the invoice. The finished art was probably thrown away.
“That’s £10,000 of public money – and we have nothing to show.”
A council spokesman said the money went on a live arts project, including a series of workshops led by professional artists.
“This project engaged residents of Cedrus House, strengthened intergenerational links and put art at the heart of this part of the community,” he added.
“Activity between the school and Cedrus house continued beyond the funding support.
“While we appreciate that the residents association may have had other expectations of the work, we believe funds for this project have been used appropriately.”