Mayor Greg Fischer has included funds for a new public art administrator in his proposed city budget. The budget, which Mayor Fischer proposed to Metro Council on Monday, adds an additional $30,000 to hire a public art administrator to the $500,000 allocated to the city’s arts fund, which provides funding to external agencies.
The new position falls under the objective Mayor Fischer’s six-year strategic plan labels “investing in people and neighborhoods.”
Spokesman Chris Poynter says the public art coordinator will work with the existing Commission on Public Art (COPA) to oversee and expand the city’s public art efforts across Jefferson County.
“We have a good collection of public art, but how do we fund more public art, how do we create more public art in all parts of the city, not just in downtown and inside the Watterson?” says Poynter.
“It’s not just a sculpture placed in a garden somewhere. Public art is very broad these days,” he adds. “We’re hoping that this person will help us understand, and — more importantly — how do we fund more? How can we take a little bit of government money, match it with private money to create more art?”
COPA co-sponsored a symposium with the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art–North America and the Speed Art Museum last fall on Louisville’s public art conservation, history and collections. One speaker, Mindy Taylor Ross, curates and manages art for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an eight-mile urban pedestrian and cycle path that connects five downtown cultural districts. At the time, she pointed to the Louisville Loop, the bicycle path that will eventually wrap around the city, as fertile ground for integrating art and design.
Poynter agrees the Loop is a potential public art opportunity for COPA and the administrator to explore.
“Once it’s finished, it will be a hundred miles encircling all areas of the city. There are opportunities for all types of artwork there, be it construction of a bridge that becomes a piece of art, or a sound installation, or a sculpture,” he says.
Poynter projects the public art administrator will be classified as a contract position, not a full-time Metro Government employee, but that the city will make a multi-year commitment to the post.
“This is going to take many years of sustained work to get going,” says Poynter.
Metro Council’s budget hearings begin next week. The Council will vote on the budget in late June. The new fiscal year begins July 1.