Marine Tanguy is CEO of MTArt
Contemporary research into future cities tends to focus on technology, architecture and infrastructure. Art in Smart Cities is a recent study that highlights the importance of public art projects for our future cities.
Very little evidence and academic studies exist to determine whether or not public art is core to the life and demand of citizens. My co-author Vishal Kumar and I collected data at two public art initiatives organised by MTArt Agency. We found that 60% of the sample audience were willing to pay at least £5 for the implementation of more public art in their local area, with 84% willing to pay at least £2, and 84% of our sample said regular public art initiatives would increase their wellbeing.
The main motivations of this work are to shine a light on the value of public art initiatives. The smart city concept is inclusive and based on cross-pollination: public art projects are representative of this complexity as they should involve art experts, urban planners, economists, sociologists, political scientists as well as citizens.
It is important to understand the economic value of public art initiatives within the smart cities context because it will allow policy makers, urban planners and developers to implement such initiatives in the future. The dialogue must be open and eclectic in its methodological approach. It calls for a different, much closer, relationship between cultural institutions and empirical researchers than has been the case to date.
Our study is here to encourage economists to work and value public art projects: it shows a demand which can be expanded to all future cities and worth studying while the public art value reveals itself to be key to citizens.
Hopefully this study is also encouraging to more cultural institutions to partner up with data analysts to lead stronger research into their audiences, the impact these projects generate and the support that they may get from them. Historically, the unwillingness of cultural institutions to engage with the tools of economics has resulted in little progress in valuing art projects, specifically public art ones. No doubt this is in part due to the unfamiliarity at using the language of consumer surplus and willingness to pay and we hope this study helps making it a more familiar method.
We also wish that this study could be the start to a long-term aim of systematically building a rigorous body of evidence which can be used to understand the value of public art projects in its various forms.
Founded in 2015, MTArt Agency is an award-winning talent agency which represents the top visual artists. While the art world concentrates on selling art on walls for a few, we focus on investing in the top artists who could inspire everyone. Every month, the agency reviews 200 portfolios of artists. Our selection committee select artists with innovative techniques, inspiring content and strong visions. Find out more.
Image: MTArt ‘Don’t Think Twice’ project by Jennifer Abessira at London Bridge