Public Art

Header Image: 'Ave I Ever Said Owt?', Richard William Wheater / Neon Workshops Commissioned as part of WordFest 2020 Ave I Ever Said Owt?', Richard William Wheater / Neon Workshops Commissioned as part of WordFest 2020

Culture is embedded in Wakefield’s DNA. Wakefield district is renowned across the world as home to major cultural institutions such as The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. But it is the people, the heritage and the great diversity of Wakefield district that are at the heart of its cultural riches.

Public Art is no longer a single art form, such as a sculpture in a town square to be simply viewed. Public art is now an exciting, engaging and interactive world of community gardens, murals, audio, video and light-based works projected onto buildings, one-off events, unexpected performances and pop-ups, festivals and workshops that take place in any location where the public can access them including parks, town squares, on and inside buildings.

Public Art Framework

In 2020, Wakefield Council appointed the Contemporary Art Society to develop a coordinated vision for Public Art development across the district; one which would consider the definition of ‘art’ in the broadest sense – from community growing projects to development and showcasing of digital films and animations, video gaming competitions, festivals, street performances and music production workshops alongside activity trails and biodiversity projects.

The Public Art Framework has been developed collaboratively with the communities and cultural organisations across the district and in July 2022 it was formally adopted by the Council. The purpose of the new Public Art Framework is to provide guidance to help develop the wider ambition of using creativity and culture as key drivers to improving the local economy, community wellbeing, skills development and ultimately strengthening community resilience as we emerge from the pandemic.

Alongside the vision and aspiration for creativity across the district, the Public Art Framework also documents guidance on how to make the vision real.

Public Art Steering Group

A key recommendation of the Public Art Framework was for the establishment of a Public Art Steering Group. This new group, which was set up in November 2021, includes a diverse range of partners from local businesses, community representatives, cultural and creative partners as well as relevant Council services.

The role of the steering group is to act as a sounding board on current and emerging public art opportunities as well as to act as an advocate for the inclusion of public art in regeneration schemes and to promote best practice and ambition in how public art is commissioned. The Steering Group will meet quarterly and be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Public Art Framework.

A Guide to Developing Murals and 2D Artwork

Wakefield Council has developed a Guide to Developing Murals and 2D Public Art for the district through extensive research and consultation with a wide range of local stakeholders and organisations.

The Guide and supplementary documents provide an overview and suggestions on how to commission 2D art in public spaces. The Guide was created by cultural development organisation Beam in collaboration with artist Emmeline North, through consultation with district-wide stakeholders.

Whether you are a Council employee, commercial developer, run a community group or work as a practising artist, this guide offers an insight into the whole process, offering inspiration and highlighting a range of possibilities alongside practical and flexible guidance. The Council’s aim is to ensure that high-quality and engaging murals are installed across the district.

Further information

If you have any questions regarding Public Art in Wakefield, please contact us on:

Should you want to find out more about the creative sector in Wakefield and/or creative business and skills support please visit

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