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Your views: on an unloved sculpture, and cutting councils


Today, readers debate the funding and fashion of public art, and question if Adelaide needs so many local councils.

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Commenting on the story: Unloved statue to call Adelaide home in 2020

The absurd debacle of the Terrance Plowright sculpture that has already become a perpetual headache for Adelaide highlights the need for greater transparency and public accountability in the practice of “gifting” cultural material of questionable merit to our major public institutions, in this case the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Did the gift provide a big tax deduction to the philanthropist who donated it?

Who determined the seemingly inflated value of $2 million for an unwanted public sculpture with a dubious political history and no apparent critical support for its merits? 

Given the obvious practical liabilities of the gift, why did AGSA consider it an acceptable addition to its collection of Australian contemporary art, when the artist has almost no national reputation beyond his various projects for local councils and community organisations within his own region in NSW?

Australia’s scheme that provides generous tax incentives for gifts to public cultural institutions is exemplary in its intentions, but too often questionable in its execution.

The reliance on tax deductible donations has also allowed state governments like that in South Australia to avoid their responsibility to provide adequate funding for acquisitions.

In short, the practice needs a serious public review to ensure that proper standards of probity and cultural value are maintained. Bruce Adams

The recycling of unloved sculpture gives pause for thought.

I recall that the now-loved statue of Queen Victoria between the QVB and the Town Hall in Sydney came from an Irish rubbish dump, doubtless placed there when she became politically incorrect after 1921.

The Romans were more direct, usually re-cutting the facial features to those of someone more acceptable to the next generation or simply destroying the offending items in a process neatly called damnatio.

The Liberal party rooms in Canberra seem to preserve their images of past Prime Ministers, even those who were dumped by machination or, like John Howard, by his electorate at the ballot box. Don’t they care?

Think of the fuss about portraits of Margaret Thatcher. And then what will happen to images of Trump? – J R Green

Commenting on the story: Mayoral “interference” claim over city councillor motions

When I came from Queensland (where the Brisbane  City Council is reasonably effective for the whole city ) I was shocked to see  the number of small suburban councils in Adelaide.

I understand the argument for local representation, but surely in a city the size of Adelaide one united council can achieve lower costs and more strategic planning. – Julanne Sweeney

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