Bill would let public art recognize key individuals, historical events

Monday, June 20, 2011 at 1:07pm

A proposal awaiting the Metro Council’s consideration would change the city’s policy for public art by allowing the allocation of funds for the installation of statues, memorials and monuments that recognize individuals or historical events.

The legislation, sponsored by Councilwoman Vivian Wilhoite, comes as some in Nashville’s African-American community are advocating for the creation of city art to honor Nashville’s role in the Freedom Rides and lunch counter sit-ins of the civil rights movement, which the city lacks.

In making their pleas, proponents have discovered a hurdle: Currently, Metro law stipulates public art dollars aren’t to be used for memorials for specific people or historical events. Wilhoite’s bill, up for the first of three votes Tuesday, seeks to overhaul this restriction.

“The criteria does not allow for that type of dedication — in particular to remember history or a particular person,” Wilhoite said of the existing law.

In Nashville, publicly funded art originates via the Percent for the Arts program, a law passed during Mayor Bill Purcell’s tenure that channels 1 percent of all net proceeds of general obligation bonds issued for construction projects to public art.

Projects paid through the Percent for the Arts program are “Ghost Ballet” on the East Bank of the Cumberland River, “Citizen” at the downtown public square and, most recently, a set of bronze statues called “Exploration and Discovery,” erected at the square.

Jen Cole, executive director of the Metro Arts Commission, declined to comment on the legislation until she has adequate time to review it. 

16 Comments on this post:

By: slacker on 6/20/11 at 12:02

A bad idea. There are too many potential candidates to be honored. This would just lead to arguments over who is chosen, and who chooses. Its best not to open this can of worms.
The council has more important issues.

By: cannoneer2 on 6/20/11 at 12:17

Ooooh, we could have our very own version of Monument Avenue, featuring our Earth shaking collection of Tennessee politicians! We could have Phil Bredesen, Jimmy Naifeh, Ron Ramsey and the like, larger than life and displayed for all to see!

By: imdyinhere on 6/21/11 at 5:08

Agreed. A public monument to anonymous riders is all that's needed. I don't need to see my tax dollars go to erecting a bust of Mike Curb or Bill Frist.

By: Kosh III on 6/21/11 at 6:07

We already have obscure names plastered onto roads and bridges aplenty.

Just have decent public art: no more broken roller coasters.

By: holleracha on 6/21/11 at 6:21

Let the folks who want a statue erected. Solicit and raise the money to do so. The council cant wait to spend money!!!!

By: gdiafante on 6/21/11 at 6:50

I can see it now, a huge Boner statue by the riverfront...

By: ohplease on 6/21/11 at 7:21

I hope the Council will defeat this quickly. This would make the process totally political.

By: trtay2004 on 6/21/11 at 10:44

Don't pass this City Council. Keep art beautiful and not political.

By: localboy on 6/21/11 at 12:35

Having the program in the first place seems questionable, but if we're going to have it anyway then go ahead and throw ideas into the pot...can't wait to see where the next one would be erected.

By: on 6/21/11 at 12:53

OH, it's to good to pass up! A huge erected Boner statue. Should be put at the entrance to the council chambers. After all that's where most of the taxpayer screwing goes on. All Mayors and councilpersons should have to swear allegiance to it at every meeting.

By: bfra on 6/21/11 at 1:37

Put one of King Karl, right beside Boner. Maybe place Karl's a little lower due to his poor handling of taxpayer's money for his own personal promotions.

By: on 6/21/11 at 1:55

Actually I misspelled Boner, it should not have been capitalized. But King Karl would be the biggest boner in the line.

By: Trumpet on 6/21/11 at 1:59

Joe/The Collection

By: slacker on 6/21/11 at 2:58

''All Hail The Mighty Karl/Boner''

By: wasaw on 6/22/11 at 8:13

So sad! Council lady Wilhoite can't spend enough of the taxpayer’s money in normal fashions. She obviously thinks she has found another "cash cow".

BTW, is there enough money left over, from the REAL things that are supposed to be purchased with these "ARTS" monies? Maybe we should focus on the intended purpose of "Metro Percent for the Arts" and stay the course.

Better yet, why doesn't Council lady Wilhoite come up to the plate with REAL ideas that will help her community; low graduate rate, high single parent rate, high prison rate for black males, just to name a few?. Our elected leaders have no answers for the REAL problems. All they want to pursue are "feel good" projects. How will erecting a memorial to a bunch of dead people better the lives of Council lady Wilhoite's constituents?

By: tomba1 on 6/22/11 at 1:15

Are these the same people who brought us that ugly red "artwork" down on the river?? By all means, full speed ahead; we need LOTS more of that stuff. NOT !

and she is running for a council-at-large seat ? think she might need some time off to reflect on things the city really needs.