Anglia Square u-turn after banning Paint Out Norwich artists over fears people would 'fall over their easels'
PUBLISHED: 14:36 15 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:33 15 October 2018
Artists taking part in a city-wide painting project were denied access to Anglia Square over fears people would "fall over their easels".
Paint Out Norwich, which is part of the Hostry Festival, is a city painting challenge which sees artists paint zones across the city.
The event, which kicked off this weekend, includes Norwich Market, Tombland and for the first time this year a day dedicated to areas of redevelopment.
But artists arriving on Monday morning at Anglia Square, which could soon be transformed into new homes, shops and a hotel, were initially told they could not paint for insurance reasons.
The boss of Anglia Square has since said he was “happy to cooperate” as long as they were not in an area of risk of people tripping over.
John Behm, architect and painter, said: “Seven or eight of us arrived here to start painting and several of us had already set up when a man wearing security identification said we couldn’t paint here as it was private property and saw us off and people went to go and find other places.
“Several of us stood to argue and the argument he maintained was that it’s private property and this was his frequent reiteration.
“It may be private property but it’s a public space and has to be accessible to the public.
“In this capacity we are volunteers in the promotion of Anglia Square and although they have public liability insurance we are no threat to the users of Anglia Square - they ought to relax and let us paint.”
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Eric Kirk, centre manager at Anglia Square, has now told painters they can continue as long as they do not put the public at risk.
“We have a reputation for being disability friendly which includes the fact we have the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind buildings right next door to us and a lot of blind people use the shopping centre so we have to be particularly careful.
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“We did not stop them, we moved them to safer places and said please carry on while we sorted out what the insurance liability was if someone fell over their easels.
“The position is now is that we have checked and the company have insurance but the artists don’t so we are allowing them to continue in select areas as long as they are not a significant risk to the public if they are somewhere they could be hit by a mobility scooter, bicycle or a blind person.”
He added: “If they are not in that kind of location then I’m happy to cooperate, if they are in an area of risk then basically no I am not happy to cooperate.
“They have to abide by my rules - this is private property.”
Katy Jon Went, who has helped organise the festival for the last five years, said: “To go around and actively seek permission everytime you put an artist on the street would be mayhem and takes away the creativity.
“If you say they have to stand on this square metre of insured space then it restricts their view - artists want to find the best view for their painting.”
Paint Out Norwich, launched in 2014, features 40 jury-selected artists and the works created will be showcased in the Norwich Cathedral Hostry from October 17-28.
James Colman, painter and founder, said: “We’ve zoned various parts of the city for this year’s fifth anniversary event and as Anglia Square is being replaced and torn down it’s a part of social history - not everyone loves it but it’s very much part of Norwich.”