With the upcoming, or not, transit expansion in Toronto, there have been many interesting claims about funding and cost and waste. Yet incredibly there was a contract for many thousands of dollars to have someone recommend what art should be put up in the new stations. These stations aren’t just not built yet, they aren’t really funded for sure either.
The dumb question is, do we have to pay for subway art?
Subway music is tightly regulated. I know, I have a guitar-playing friend of considerable talent who once did this. Musicians must have some sort of permit from the TTC, must pass a talent test, and line up for the privilege of playing in subway stations for whatever loonies you and I might throw at their instrument cases or hats.
I would think that artists would be delighted to provide simple or indicative versions of their masterpieces purely as advertising for themselves and their talents. Acquiring a name, market visibility, moves an artist into a significantly higher price bracket. We could have tasteful self-promotions of local artists. We could require them to get our permission to display their wares in our subway stations. We could allow our artists to promote themselves. Small exhibitions might be possible.
Compare this to our TTC musicians, who create little name recognition for themselves, no matter how well they play for our benefit. Once they move on, we never hear about the vast majority of them, ever again. And the musicians have to be physically present all the time they expect to be noticed.
So the dumb question is, could we get reasonable art in our stations for free? Would the artists consider this to be a reasonable deal?
What do you think?