Posted on Monday 28 September 2020
Councillor Mark Howell, Acting Leader of BCP Council, said:
"Attracting the work of national artists such as the Cold War Steve exhibition supports our aspirations to develop a diverse cultural ecosystem for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
“Art should evoke emotion and create debate and we are committed to supporting the arts and creative sector including supporting challenging work. Artists are free to produce controversial work, and doing so often increases their profile. However, as a council, we have a duty to protect the reputation of our towns and their residents, and not to give the perception that we support any particular viewpoint.
“We are pleased to have participated and contributed to the artistic debate around Cold War Steve’s exhibition for Bournemouth but stand firm by our decision to not permit the showcasing of the dystopian side of the artwork on the beach, as we were concerned it might cause offence to passers by who were not visiting the festival. At a time when we need people to work together, we feel that displaying the image in question would risk further division amongst the public.
“The production company promoting the artwork had promised that the artwork would be 'playful' in line with the artist’s previous work but when we were shown images only days before proposed construction, the offending one was hard-hitting political comment and included a person making a Nazi salute.
“I am pleased we have been able to reach a respectful compromise with the artist on what will be displayed on site. The beach is a public space and it is a privilege for any artist to be granted an opportunity to use it to promote their work.”