Council moves on public art
- Published: November 15, 2012
Village Council members discussed the first draft of its first ever public art policy at their meeting Monday, Nov. 5. The policy, drafted by Village Manager Laura Curliss, covers the principles and procedures the Village will use to accept both permanent and temporary installations of art in Village-owned spaces. The Village also agreed to establish an art commission to advise Council on matters regarding art in public spaces. Council hopes to finalize and approve the policy by the end of the calendar year.
Several Yellow Springs Arts Council members and villagers commented during the meeting about the evolving art policy, and gave a general air of approval for Council’s first steps. Members of an ad hoc Public Places Resource Group had recently proposed to create and recommend its own public art policy, as Council had agreed last year to begin drafting one and hadn’t yet done it. But at last month’s Council meeting Village leaders said they preferred to draft the policy themselves, and agreed to consider using Public Places in an advisory capacity.
The draft public art policy is structured around four types of art installations, including transient performance art (spontaneous, short duration activities, such as buskers), event-related public art (music/art festivals), visual installations in public hallways and buildings, and more permanent installations requiring cement foundations. It is suggested that the first and most informal level of art not require any official notification, but that the rest require varying degrees of Village approval.
Event-related art, for example, would be approved by event permit from the Village, specifying location, duration, and logistics for set-up and take-down. Permitting for such events already occurs regularly in the village. The most significant change proposed by the art policy would require a two-step formal agreement with the Village for both visual art installation in a public building and more permanently constructed installations. A concept proposal would be brought to Council for public discussion and initial approval to task the Village manager and the art promoter to bring a detailed proposal back to Council for final approval. The final proposal would include a formal agreement specifying ownership of the art, security, insurance, installation issues, mutual rights and responsibilities, etc.
Villager Richard Lapedes voiced strong support for the two-step approval process, requiring the art promoter to propose a well-planned installation that will not be a management burden for Village staff.
“Anyone who wants public art needs to be willing to do their homework,” he said, making a case for arts administrators who have the project management skills that artists themselves don’t always have.
Villager Brian Housh commented that while the two-step approval process for an outdoor sculpture makes sense, requiring the same for a temporary indoor installation seemed “a little burdensome.”
Villager Joanne Caputo requested that Council again consider a suggestion proposed by YSAC a year earlier that the Village establish a department of parks, recreation and cultural arts that would model other arts-oriented communities.
But both Council President Judith Hempfling and Council member Karen Wintrow demurred, saying that creating a new department was not the Village’s highest priority, and that Council preferred to focus on getting the public art policy approved first. Curliss also added that current parks superintendent Jason Hamby is stretched thin enough managing four areas, including the Village’s sewer and water departments.
Instead, Council requested that the Public Places group participate by drafting a statement of purpose for public art for inclusion in the art policy, as well as proposing a list of candidates for the Village art commission.
Public Places Resource Group aligned over the summer to push further consideration of the management of art in public spaces. Most recent concerns arose in March, when the Village received several complaints about nude art displayed in the annual “Women’s Voices Out Loud” exhibit on the second floor of the Bryan Center, a gallery then managed by YSAC. Curliss said at the time that the Village needed a formal policy in order to fairly and efficiently manage the use of its public spaces and right-of-ways for art.
In other Council business:
• Council approved a three-year lease with the John Bryan Community Pottery, Inc. for its continued use as a community ceramic studio that provides art classes as well as space and gas- and wood-fired kilns for villagers. In lieu of payment, the term of the lease specify a community benefit of a 10 percent discount on monthly membership fees and a 20 percent discount on classes.
• Council continued to discuss the Village budget, including the capital needs, enterprise funds and the general fund.
• Council approved villager Linda Rudawski as a new member of the Village Human Relations Commission.
• On Nov. 14–15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Village will distribute free Efficiency Smart compact fluorescent light bulbs at the utility billing window.
• Following Monday’s meeting, Council met in executive session to discuss both litigation and personnel issues.
• At the next Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, Council will swear in the new police chief and continue to discuss the Village budget, the public art policy, and goals for 2013.