City to develop plan for art in public parks

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 4:41pm

A forthcoming plan initiated by city government will explore the installment of public art in parks throughout Davidson County. 

The Metro Parks & Recreation Board on Tuesday agreed to partner with the Metro Nashville Arts Commission to create a long-range public art master plan. The board is trying to identify the best way to incorporate art into the city’s numerous parks.

“We are required to [locate] art on publicly owned property,” Jennifer Cole, executive director of the arts commission, said. “The parks and greenways system rises to the top in terms of places where any Nashvillian can come and see it.”

The park board’s vote on Tuesday established a committee composed of art commissioners, board members and others to kick off the creation of the plan. Cole said she hopes to have a contractor in place by spring to formally draft the plan. She said she’s unsure when it would be completed.

Funds for public art in Metro parks would come from the “Percent for the Arts” program, signed into law by former Mayor Bill Purcell in 2001. Under the initiative, 1 percent of all net proceeds of general obligation bonds issued for public construction projects is dedicated to funding public art.

In 10 years, the funding mechanism has produced two finished projects: the “Ghost Ballet” sculpture on the East Bank and two sculptures on the downtown Public Square known collectively as “Citizen.” Another set of sculptures is to be installed at Public Square in January.

Metro’s public art fund balance stands at $5.1 million, with several projects outside of downtown already in the pipeline. Only $1 million of the fund balance has been assigned.

Future projects include art at the new Goodlettsville library, budgeted for $50,000; art at the new McCabe Park community center, budgeted for $50,000; and art at the new 28th Avenue Connector, budgeted for $150,000. There’s also $2 million allocated to bring art to the new Music City Center. Those funds came from the Convention Center Authority’s fund balance instead of the “Percent for the Arts” program.

According to Cole, the Nashville Civic Design Center, a nonprofit that studies land use, is nearing completion of a study that looked at where public art could be installed within the city’s 40 Metro Council districts. She said the report has found two-thirds of public art opportunities are at parks or green spaces.

At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard, a resident of Bellevue and outspoken proponent for bringing more public arts to the county’s periphery, told park board members on Tuesday it’s important to consider installing art in the city’s suburban areas. He cited the Warner Parks system as a possibility.

“We need to remember that all taxpayers in Davidson County have contributed through their property taxes into the fund that created this public art money,” Tygard said. “Therefore, it’s very appropriate you all consider locations throughout the entire county."  

6 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 11/2/10 at 3:55

Somewhat good news. It would be nice to see local artists receive all the money. Also, scale within the context area would be a wonderful improvement.

Right now the only thing we know about this project is that it is the equivalent to winning the lottery for the out-of-state artists lucky enough to score points with the judges.

By: Redactor on 11/2/10 at 10:09

This needs to stop now! End the embarrassments caused by Ghost Ballet and Musica. People in this city need money to be spent to create jobs, not overpriced, stupid art.

By: MrT on 11/3/10 at 8:19

Great...$5.1M that could have gone to pay bus drivers, teachers and custodians is going to be spent on "art". I think they would do better to plant trees in the parks instead. Every time I drive the roundabout, I wish that huge embarrassment was a big Christmas tree!

By: d4deli on 11/3/10 at 11:23

Instead of spending money on art for the interiors of buildings like libraries, why not open the wall space for exhibits so local artists can share their work. There is a lot of art out there, and no one gets to see it, because it isn't on display. The library would be a perfect location for a revolving art exhibit, displaying the work of local artists. If you still want to actually spend money, then pay those artists, but you could save the money and simply let artists sell the pieces if anyone were interested.

By: T2 on 11/8/10 at 10:34

Re above comments:
1. If only local artists can complete for public art projects Nashville artists will be rejected for projects in other cities.
2. General obligation bond funds dedicated for public art projects are restricted for specific art commissions only. The money does create jobs -- for creativ4e artists and those who help fabricate the art.
3. Public art can enhance architecture and is appropriate in public buildings. Check out the Richard Haas murals at the Nashville Library downtown or the Phoenix, AZ Solid Waste Management Facility as examples of how public art can provide something of public interest.

By: MJB on 11/14/10 at 5:49

Please: No more public art. It is almost always--like "Musica"--embarrassingly bad.

Parks need trees, good walkways, areas for gathering, and maybe a playground. If you have nature, then you don't need art.