Public art program closer to creation

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Since September, a group of artists and arts administrators have been meeting to design the foundations for a public art program.

During a Thursday meeting, the Public Art Steering Committee set a goal to have a proposal before City Council by early 2006. The proposal will request the creation of a permanent Public Art Commission to be appointed by the City Council. The commission's first responsibility would be to direct the use of a $15,000 set aside in the general fund for public art. The city offers the $15,000 annually with the requirement it be matched by a minimum of $10,000 in private funds.

The commission would have no more than nine members. The council would determine the number of members. Potential members would be asked to apply for a term-limited position, much as people apply for seats on planning commissions.

If the creation of a Public Art Commission is approved by City Council, the group would not only steer the spending of the $25,000 of allocated money, but it also would be a go-to point for any nonprofit organization or private developer interested in placing art in a public place.

Steamboat Springs Arts Council Executive Director Nancy Kramer initially argued that the new public art program should be administered by the Arts Council, which already has a dormant program in place. She said she thought the new funding source could be used to bring the Arts Council's program back into being.

After a brief discussion, Kramer excused herself from the meeting, citing a conflict of interest with her duties as a member of City Council.

The group agreed the Arts Council should be involved in the process, but that a private nonprofit organization should not be in charge of distributing public dollars.

"We want this commission to be open to public scrutiny," said steering committee member Bill Hamilton.

The Public Art Steering Committee will meet again at noon Nov. 21 in Centennial Hall to refine the qualifications of applicants to the new commission, as well as the role and responsibilities of those who apply for the open seats.

-- To reach Autumn Phillips, call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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