Public art and heritage interpretation information sheet

We believe outdoor public spaces are important places for presenting arts and heritage activities. The experience of public spaces is enhanced by encountering activities such as festivals, performances, and public art.  

We support the regular public presentation of arts and heritage activities for the benefit of the whole community. 

Yarra Ranges is a place that values culture. The community understands the profound and powerful influence arts, culture and heritage have in shaping our lives. We want to extend and build on this understanding. Our vision is to shape Yarra Ranges as a place where access to and participation in arts, culture and heritage is sustained as a seamless and deeply meaningful experience. An experience we encounter in the street, in our open spaces, in our civic places, our schools and in our homes.  

- Cultural Policy & Action Plan, Yarra Ranges Council.

Before you start your project 

  1. Read  this information sheet to get an understanding of what working in the public domain may involve.
  2. Discuss your idea with others in the local area to establish if there is support. If so record the nature of that support. Continue to communicate as the project progresses.
  3. Decide the basic structure of your project, and how you intend to fund it.
  4. Discuss your project with Council’s Art in Public Places or Community Heritage Officer and continue to communicate as the project progresses.
  5. Register your event/project with Council so the relevant departments can review your proposal and assist you through any planning and permit requirements.
  6. Proceed through your planning, obtaining the necessary permissions.
  7. Deliver your project and celebrate.

Some things to consider 

Working in the public domain can be complex. Some of the questions that need to be considered and addressed before a project commences include: 

  • Who owns the artwork?
  • Who owns the property on which it is installed?
  • Who has an interest in the space where it is installed?
  • How permanent is the project? (temporary works can be easier in the public domain)
  • Have sustainable and durable materials been considered in creating the artwork?
  • Has the community been consulted regarding the nature and content of the public art or heritage project?
  • Is the content appropriate for the public domain?
  • How will people access the project?
  • What permits might be required for the project? Eg. Planning Permit, Asset Protection Permit, Traffic Permit, etc.
  • Is Traffic Management required for any physical works near roads or footpaths?
  • Has public risk been assessed and considered in the proposed project?
  • How will the work be insured?
  • Has public liability associated with the work been considered; and for how long?
  • How will the project be constructed: contractors, volunteers?
  • Has a plan for the maintenance and repair of the work over time been planned?
  • Will the work require anti-graffiti coating?
  • Who should be consulted in the event that the work needs to be removed / relocated?
  • How will the contributors to the project design and creation be acknowledged?
  • Who can reproduce or use the
  • images/artwork?
  • Have all relevant stakeholders been consulted and come to mutual agreement?
  • How much will it cost? How will it be funded?

This list does not cover every area that may need to be considered; as each project will vary, so too will the issues arising from that project. 

Links & resources

It is helpful for all parties involved in the project to have a shared understanding and reach agreement on the processes and expected outcomes before the project commences. Regular communication as the project progresses is also essential. 

Engaging Artists 

The National Association for Visual Artists have developed a Code of Practice for the Professional Australian Visual Arts, Craft and Design. Chapter 3 provides a set of practical and ethical guidelines for commissioning public art. Login required. 

Heritage Interpretation

Interpretation is information provided to the public to make sense of the object, site or infrastructure they are viewing. The following resources provide advice on how to achieve the best result to serve the viewing public.

Making Interpretation Easy 

Interpretation Australia 


The Arts Law Centre of Australia has information on copyright, moral rights and contracts for artists and arts workers. 

Design Considerations 

The Victorian Government’s Urban Design Charter identifies design principles for public environments that are valued and significant for those who use them.     

Register your proposal

Please register your project with Council so the relevant departments can review your proposal and assist you through any planning and permit requirements. Council can provide the best support when given notice of the project well in advance, and at the beginning of the project. 

Register now