PUBLIC ART

 In Blog

by Shanequa RAINEY

Meeting Summary – On Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 conNECKtedTOO apprentices met with students from N.C Chapel Hill to talk about the scope of their internship. From what I gathered the students’ main objective was to develop mock-up policies for public art in Charleston. As of now the City of Charleston does not have policies relating to public art and this makes it harder to find the proper channels for artists who may not have the connections. All of this comes as a major shock to me, because I just always assumed we had public art policies in place. I mean, there is art all around Charleston, I would say we are a city filled with art. To not have policies pertaining to something as important as public art, which plays a part in a city’s image, seems very unprogressive, very unCharleston. Topic of Conversation – During the conversation we mainly asked questions to get a better bearing on what the students from Chapel Hill had in mind and what they had already accomplished. Since none of them were from Charleston, one of the things they expressed was trying to get feedback from the local communities. They had already looked at the public art policies of other southern cities such as Chattanooga [Tennessee], Raleigh [North Carolina], and Atlanta [Georgia], but wanted to make sure they were making a policy proposal that reflected Charleston. The main thought behind this was that they didn’t want to be doing something for Charleston, but with Charleston. This is why they saw spending a good bit of their time meeting with the various art communities in Charleston as an essential step in creating the proposal. Before meeting with us they had already met with various groups and organizations. Since then, they have hosted an event at Redux Contemporary Art Center.
3 Major Policy Concepts  – A few of the concepts in their proposal were to define what public art is, the creation of a Public Art Commission and The Percent for Art Program. If you are wondering what exactly are these, just stick with me here. Public art is art made in a public / shared space that the public can access. A Public Art Commission would be a group of art knowledgeable people who either reject or approve public art projects and who have control of a special fund for these projects. And as I understand it, The Percent for Art Program is whenever a developer is conducting a Capital Improvement Project that is over a predetermined cost, they are to give 1% of the money to a fund for public art. These all sound dandy to me, but I am a bit wary of the Public Art Commission concept. My feelings are that it creates a middle man. Middle men are great in certain situations, but a middle man between the city and skilled individuals who would like to make a public art piece seems like an extra step that would allow more people to do projects, but put more time in-between when a project gets proposed and when it gets constructed, if it gets approved by both the commission and the city.

Conversation flow / progress – As it was, most of the conversation was us asking them questions about the project and less of us giving them the honest critique they were asking for. This caused the conversation to be a bit more awkward, and choppy than it should have been.

 

Where can we go from here? – I think receiving more information gathering, such as hosting more events aimed towards the public and meeting with more Charlestonians should be the next steps. I also think that getting the proposed policy and procedures document in the hands of many more people would also be a good idea. You can’t fully grasp what the scope of the project is before you see this document.

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