Panel: funding needed for public art
June 29, 2010
In reaction to shrinking revenues, elected officials in Summit County did not fund public art at the health building at Quinn’s Junction. The facility opened last year and was one of the first projects built under a 2008 ordinance directing the county to spend not more than 1 percent of its capital facilities costs on public art.
"We have never, as a board, received this funding," said Lola Beatlebrox, a member of the Summit County Public Art Advisory Board.
Funding from the ordinance could have been used for murals, mosaics, fountains, benches or "anything that the art advisory board thought would be appropriate at the location," Beatlebrox said.
The board was formed to make recommendations to the county about public art expenditures. In 2009, the panel collaborated with the Summit County Fair Board to commission a mural celebrating the fair’s 100th anniversary in Coalville. Art board members also worked with library officials designing a wrap for the new Summit County Bookmobile.
"We see a lot of opportunities as a board to really enhance and celebrate the county through art," Beatlebrox said. "We’ve been a little stymied in what we have wanted to do because we have not been funded yet We have not received money to put together some of the ideas that we recommend."
The board cannot rely on foundations and private donors for funding, Beatlebrox said.
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With county officials preparing to remodel an old hospital building in Coalville, Beatlebrox said they should apply the ordinance and make funding for public art part of the construction budget for the project.
She said public art should also be included at bus stops in the Snyderville Basin and the roundabout on Landmark Drive.
Meanwhile, Summit County should also begin requiring commercial builders and the developers of multi-family housing to include public art in their projects, said South Summit resident Ennis Gibbs, a member of the Summit County Public Art Advisory Board.
"It’s not so much a tax as it is a benefit to them to create beauty in their facility," Gibbs said.
Developers could either include public art in their projects or contribute money to a public art fund overseen by the county, Beatlebrox explained.
But Summit County Councilman John Hanrahan said he would likely oppose an ordinance requiring private developers fund public art.
"I’m just very leery of saying to developers that we are going to put a 1 percent tax on you for art," Hanrahan said.
"To have the county say you have to do this is a little bit past where I am."
Using public money for purchasing artwork may be cited by some citizens as wasteful spending by the government.
But Hanrahan said he would rather budget money for public art than place the burden for funding artwork on the backs of private developers.
Helen Strachan, a deputy Summit County attorney, said the Public Art Advisory Board is anxious to move forward with several initiatives.
"They are an energetic group with no money," Strachan said.