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Art commissioning

Preparation - The Vision

What, why, where, when

What do you want to achieve through your project?

Think about Hampshire County Council’s objectives of maximising wellbeing and enhancing our quality of place.

Who will be the audience for the project?

Most public art works will impact on a particular audience or community.

Consultation can take many forms. Direct involvement in the design and making of the work, educational workshops, contribution to the selection process or perhaps informal discussion and feedback. Its main role is to keep the audience informed. Consultation does not necessarily mean that control over the design or final selection of artists needs to be given to those you are consulting with. Although in some cases it might be appropriate for the intended audience to play a major role in the decision process.

The key benefits of consultation are to keep the audience informed, to generate a sense of ownership of the work and help with advocacy for the project.

What kind of work would be appropriate?

Are there any particular skills you need the artist to have apart from their art-form expertise?

The choice of artist and type of work will of course depend on….where you want it.

What are the nature, restrictions and requirements of the site?

When does all this need to be ready by?

You will need to plan a timeline to consider installation periods, advertising and selection periods, as well as production periods.

Still unsure?
You could undertake some consultation at this stage either yourself or with the help of a public art consultant or experienced artist if you have funds available. An informal discussion with colleagues or other arts professionals, including artists can be useful at this stage but you should try to avoid demanding too much unpaid time from artists in developing the project.

…Let the artists solve the problem
It may be that you still don’t know what kind of work you want and there may be a number of possible limitations within your chosen site. Artists are creative problem-solvers. Provided you can clearly describe the site and the context, invite artists to offer a solution. Many artists will value the chance to respond to an open brief.


Your colleagues in the Arts Office at Hampshire County Council have significant knowledge and expertise in this area and also know who else in the County Council has useful experience to pass on. Use the web. If it’s visual arts you are interested in talk to curators in regional galleries, many galleries both public and commercial have web sites with examples of work to fire your imagination. Winchester School of Art has an extensive library with an excellent collection of books, current and archived magazines.

If you do know what the work is likely to be and exactly where it is likely to be located then you could undertake a risk assessment at this point. This can then feed into the budget in relation to insurance costs. If not then it can be done once the brief is developed.

Consultation, Documentation and Evaluation

We have briefly considered consultation but what about documenting and evaluating the project. This is important to both you and your colleagues in learning from your project and is also important to any external funders who may be involved. The process can be undertaken by you, the artist or perhaps an external evaluator. You don’t need to decide yet but do give it some thought at this stage.




  • Directors of the Regional Galleries eg. Aspex, John Hansard Gallery, ArtSway, Winchester Gallery
  • Public Art Officer Arts Council England South East


Work by Tina Wallbridge

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