Birmingham City Council is putting £10,000 towards the cost of a rhinestone-encrusted model of a rhinoceros to mark the entry to the city’s Gay Village.
The diamante-studded blinged beast will stand at the junction of Bromsgrove Street and Hurst Street to celebrate the gateway to the Gay Village area.
It has been partly-funded by Birmingham’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group and the leftover cash from previous grants made by the city council as part of the Big City Plan to revitalise the city centre.
The overall cost of the model is £15,000 with Birmingham City Council providing the bulk of the cash through money received from nearby building schemes, with £2,500 from the Southside Business Improvement District.
Organisers said a rhino was chosen to represent the area because the beast was “associated with strength and was originally a symbol of the gay rights movement in the United States”.
The use of rhinestones is supposed to reflect Birmingham’s rich jewellery-making history.
It is hoped the huge model, which is currently under construction, will become a popular feature of the Gay Village and adjoining Southside district in the same way that the Bullring bull has become associated with the city’s shopping districts.
A spokesman for the project said: “The city council has made a sustained investment in the Gay Village and the project has been funded with the remains from cash already allocated to the area.”
David Viney, of Birmingham LGBT, added: “This is a hugely exciting project that represents the culmination of four years’ work between Birmingham LGBT and the city council to create a truly iconic piece of art.”
Julia Chance, of Southside Business Improvement District, said: “We were keen to mark the gateway with a landmark to properly celebrate the area’s diversity and importance to the city.
“This project is a great example of private, public and charitable organisations all collaborating to create something positive for the community.”
A spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: “Taxpayers will wonder why Birmingham City Council are blowing money on public art at a time when it’s pleading poverty in other areas. Art projects like this are capable of raising money for themselve.”
A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: “The cash offered by the local authority towards the rhino project is subject to Section 106 of the Government’s planning regulations which places specific conditions on a development to improve a local area.”
Under section 106 cash is granted by a local authority especially for community projects and improvements. The cash must be repaid to the authority when the project is completed.