A billboard that has been put up in Bury has been accused of 'stoking division' and being 'utterly offensive'.

The new public art campaign by Artichoke Ltd has used a big billboard on Angouleme Way to display the slogan 'Hey Straight White Men, Pass the Power!'.

Many people have expressed their disappointment about the billboard including Bury North MP James Daly, who believes it is “pointless, ridiculous and stokes division”.

The Artichoke Trust is funded by the Arts Council England which is funded by the government.

The government has given the Arts Council a certain amount of funding and it’s thought that £3.5m has gone to Artichoke Ltd.

Mr Daly said: “My initial view is that taxpayer’s money is being spent to give the company the opportunity to do this, and if it’s a political statement, taxpayers money should not be used for that, and they should use their own means.

“If they feel that they’ve got a political point-of-view or a social point-of-view there are plenty of ways they can do that but getting the taxpayer to pay for this is in my view both inappropriate, a complete and utter waste of money.

“I think that any type of statement that stigmatises or attacks any single part of our community is pointless, ridiculous and just stokes division for no reason whatsoever.

“One of the things I want to see is in art and in life is a world that celebrates and looks at things in a positive way.

“At this moment in time we’ve got a conservative leadership campaign with a white woman and a man of Indian origin, it does tend to suggest that white straight men at the moment are missing out on, as we speak here, that sort of power.

“We should be celebrating the achievements like the Lionesses and highlighting how power should be inclusive and shared.

“Instead, we have people like this wasting everyone’s time with pointless messages for their own ends.

“Of all the things that are happening in our town, I would have preferred to see the money go on youth facilities or providing training and work experience for people, there’s all sorts of ways we can positively help and assist people who feel excluded from power.

“And all those people who want help to achieve their potential, not one of them are helped by sticking a big billboard in the centre of a town like Bury.”

London-based artist Nadina Ali created the artwork and it is part of 10 pieces created by other artists, which all aim to create pieces that would engage a public conversation around topics like identity and society.

Bury Times: Anything you can do, I can do bleeding, Nichola Irvine. The Gallery, Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke. Anything you can do, I can do bleeding, Nichola Irvine. The Gallery, Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke.

She describes her artwork as a direct call to action and says that it is time to shift that power dynamic and create a more equal world where anyone can access positions of power regardless of sexual orientation, skin colour or gender.

One Bury resident, who wished not to be identified, said: “As a non-racist, non-misogynistic, non-homophonic, open minded, accepting, progressive straight white male and father of two teenage boys, who myself and my strong, independent, successful wife have brought up to be of similar mind, while ensuring strong educational values, I find the billboard utterly offensive.

“It completely vilifies all straight white men by suggesting that they all possess and wield power in some tyrannical manner with the intention of keeping all other people downtrodden to the benefit of themselves.

“This is an untrue and a wholly unacceptable mantra to preach to society in general, all in the name of art.

“It would, quiet correctly, be deemed as unacceptable for 'art' like this to make such intentionally racist, divisive comments about any other section of society.

“It is a very small percentage of straight white men that actually hold some of the mythical 'power' and there are thousands of straight white men in the Bury area who would, doubtless, like to know where their 'power' is, as they struggle to make ends meet along with all the other members of their community.

“We as a society must consider the mental health of all members of our community and ensure that wild generalisations are not advertised as being accurate representations of certain sections of our society.”

Bury Times: Portrait (masked man) Dandi 7, NIA DE INDIAS, series, Dandis del Puerto (2019)Portrait (masked man) Dandi 7, NIA DE INDIAS, series, Dandis del Puerto (2019)

In response, a spokesperson from Artichoke, The Gallery said: “The artwork in question is one of 10 artworks by 10 different artists and is part of the first exhibition of The Gallery.

“The Gallery is a new kind of cultural institution without walls, that asks critical and urgent questions about the society we live in.

“For this first exhibition of The Gallery, we invited artists from around the world to respond to the theme ‘Straight White Male’.

“The artworks displayed in the exhibition represent a varied, nuanced and thoughtful response to this theme.

“By working with the Out of Home industry, displaying these images on advertising sites around the UK, The Gallery removes traditional barriers for the public to experience and see great art.

“We’re not asking that the public should necessarily agree with the statements in any of the artworks, just that they should think about and debate the ideas.

“The full collection of all 10 artworks may be seen at www.thegallery.org.uk.”