In the wake of the regrettable destruction of Vincent Woropay’s “Capo” sculpture, Stoke’s new Labour Administration has taken decisive action to protect the city’s public art for future generations. The Council’s newly proposed Public Art Protocol, approved at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, November 7th, aims to safeguard heritage assets, including statues, war memorials, murals, fountains, and architectural features, situated on public land across the city.
This protocol has become all the more crucial following the controversial actions of the Conservative opposition leader, Daniel Jellyman. In January, Mr. Jellyman ordered the destruction of Vincent Woropay’s beloved sculpture, “Capo,” which ignited public outrage. His subsequent resignation as Deputy Leader came amid revelations that he had lied about and attempted to cover up his involvement in the vandalism.
Council leader Jane Ashworth OBE underscored the importance of preventing such incidents in the future: “We want to ensure that what happened to Capo will not happen again. I am confident that our new Public Art Protocol will support our efforts to safeguard our city’s heritage now and in the future.”
The protocol establishes a comprehensive process for any regeneration scheme in Stoke-on-Trent that involves a site with a work of art, heritage asset, or listed structure on public land. Before approval by a director, these projects must undergo an assessment of their cultural value, conducted in consultation with the Planning team and the Historic Environment Record Officer.
Councillor Ashworth also highlighted additional measures to protect the city’s heritage. A city-wide public art inventory, listing 72 public art installations across the city, has been compiled. Furthermore, a public engagement exercise is set to be launched later this month to expand this inventory in consultation with local communities and stakeholders.
Looking ahead, the Council is committed to developing a comprehensive Public Art Strategy, further solidifying its commitment to managing and supporting public art in Stoke-on-Trent. This multi-pronged approach, which includes the new Public Art Protocol, the inventory, and the upcoming strategy, demonstrates the Council’s dedication to preserving the cultural legacy of Stoke-on-Trent for generations to come.