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City of St. John's: Public Art is a Public Right

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Dear Mayor Dennis O'Keefe and City of St. John's Council Members:

Local artist Pepa Chan recently made the devastating discovery that her public art installation at Quidi Vidi Lake was disposed of by the city's Recreation and Parks Department without any notification. This act represents a violation of Pepa's freedom of artistic expression and the public's right to public art.

This act of violence is even more disheartening due to the fact that Pepa secured funding for this installation via a City of St. John's Arts Grant and an ArtsNL Grant.

As world-renowned public artist Bansky points out in the following quote, advertising companies are free to infiltrate our lives in whatever way they see fit, often with detrimental results:

"People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity."

Why are advertisers free to sell to us every day without our consent and protected from defamation or disposal by law while an artist like Pepa is denied similar rights while offering her publicly-funded vision in a public space? This abrupt act of disposal recently committed by the city's Recreation and Parks Department is disgraceful.

We the undersigned demand that you offer a public apology to Pepa and consider monetary compensation for the labour, art materials, and public funding you threw away with the city’s trash.

Thank you.

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