Public Art Policy in Final Stages

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A city art policy that has been updated since 2004 could be revised this week.

Members of the city’s Public Art Committee hope to have a final draft of the city’s public art policy after their meeting Thursday. The policy lays out the care and maintenance of city-owned art.

While many agree a new policy will help organize Raleigh’s public art, some expressed concerns about how the changes affect projects and the convention center.

A Need to Organize

The policy names the Raleigh Arts Commission as the organization responsible for the program; the old policy did not list a governing body.

The Public Art Committee is made up of three members of the Public Art and Design Board, and one representative from each of the affected commissions: planning, arts, convention center, appearance and parks and recreation.

Public Art Committee and Public Art and Design Board Chair Thomas Cayre said the city’s art collection is growing because of the PercentforArtprogram, which was implemented in 2009.

The Percent for Art program takes a half of a percent of the general construction costs for capital projects to be used for public art.

Basket in Open Space by Jan Chenoweth on Exchange Plaza in downtown is one of the permanent public art displays in Raleigh. Photo by Charles C. Duncan Pardo.

The city owns about 200 pieces of art, both indoors and out. Cayre said the updated policy document will help manage those works, providing guidelines for acquiring art, criteria for that art and how it will be maintained.

Public Art Coordinator Kim Curry-Evans said the old policy meant art decisions were “piecemeal.”

The new policy is a universal document that would set the same standards for all city departments, she said.

“This is how we are going to ensure that we are applying the best standards possible for the community,” said Curry-Evans.

A Few Concerns
The new policy adds the Raleigh Convention Center to the Raleigh Arts Commission’s purview. Convention center organizers initially voiced concerns about losing control of the decisions for their public art.

Convention Center Director Roger Krupa said it looked as though they would no longer have any say in what art is displayed there. Krupa said they were able to come to a consensus.

“Everybody is going agree on what the art’s going to be,” he said. “No one is going to be left out of the decision making process. It’s a collaborative process between the two groups now.”

Transportation Manager Eric Lamb said some of his department’s projects and budgets are affected by the Percent for Art program. He questions whether certain types of art would be part of the Raleigh Arts Commission’s scope.

For example, a new bridge could have an artistic element integrated into the design.

Curry-Evans said that it is possible to have art integrated into the design of a project as long as the community wants it and there is an artist or designer ready and willing to do the work.

Lamb said he also wanted the policy to outline site specific funding. Money from a construction project in a particular area of Raleigh should have the resulting art displayed in that same area, rather than in another part of the city, he said.

Curry-Evans said in the best-case scenario, money from a project would go back into the project area. But because of the small amount of money that is generally collected from each project, funds are pooled together.

As the Percent for Art program grows, Curry-Evans said she would like to see the amount increase from half a percent to 1 or 2 percent.

If a draft is finalized Thursday, the policy will be sent to the Public Art and Design Board for approval before heading to the city attorney’s office and then the City Council for a final vote.

The Public Art Committee meeting is open to the public and will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday in room 303 at City Hall.

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