A MAN who came up with idea of covering a Bristol street with art will help pay for it out of his £72,000 annual salary, the Evening Post can reveal.
See No Evil will see Nelson Street in Bristol city centre transformed next week, when some of the world’s biggest street artists repaint the large, grey buildings with colourful murals.
Organisers hope it will become Bristol’s next big tourist attraction, as a similar set-up in Melbourne, Australia, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.
The three-day event has cost £80,000, half of which is coming from Bristol’s place-making director Mike Bennett’s annual salary.
The other £40,000 comes from the city council, although as the council pays most of Mr Bennett’s salary, it means the council is essentially footing the whole bill.
The place-making role attracting criticism when it was created last year, with concerns it was a waste of money. The two-year fixed term post was set up to raise the city’s profile and attract more investment in the city.
It has emerged Mr Bennett made the £40,000 offer to the council in May so he could start work on the See No Evil project.
The £80,000 has gone on a range of infrastructure costs for the scheme. That includes flights and accommodation for the artists, security, road closure applications and the stages for the music events.
Mr Bennett told the Post 35 people had worked on the project for the last six months for free. He said: “The council put in the £40,000 because of the economic benefits it will bring the city. We’ve estimated we’ve had £250,000 of sponsorship in kind for the event.
“We’ve had a huge amount of interest from European media, which is exactly the kind of coverage Bristol needs.”
Mr Bennett hopes if See No Evil is a success it will be easier to raise money from businesses for future projects.
He added up to 45 per cent of the money raised from prints sold off the back of the event would be reinvested for future place-making projects.
Council leader Barbara Janke said: “The city council is keen to play its part in this exciting international project. The benefits to the city economy in August could be considerable, as well as the legacy this scale of project could bring o the city in terms of an exciting new tourist destination and the attraction of new talent to the city. We have been overwhelmed by the level of national and international media interest. Bristol has a widely-appreciated record following the Banksy exhibition in 2008. We have helped the organisers clear the way in terms of road and transport, individual building approval, as well as event licensing and any planning.
“We are confident the Nelson Street art project will be a big success and will help Mike in his sponsorship drive to gather support from the business community and other partners to invest in place making and the marketing of the city.”
“In addition income will be generated throughout the event to contribute to costs by taking a percentage of all profits made by our commercial partners, concessions and merchandise.”
See No Evil takes place next Thursday, Friday and Saturday.