Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Taking Public Art to the Streets!

Author: Cierra Linander (OVAC Intern)
Part of the Oklahoma Art in Public Places program, Four Seasons by Kevin Box 
is located at the entrance to the University of Central Oklahoma’s Center for Transformative Learning.
Two weeks ago, the Oklahoma Arts Council and Oklahomans for the Arts hosted the 2012 Oklahoma Arts Conference, and I had the pleasure of attending. The theme of this year’s two-day conference was Building Bridges to Vibrant Communities, which primarily focused on the economic benefits of community revitalization projects. 

A variety of inspiring tours, panels, and workshops were held, ranging from informational sessions for artists on writing grant proposals, to inspiring seminars discussing the crucial role the arts play in the livelihood of our communities.

Part of the Oklahoma Art in Public Places program, the Heritage Bridge
was designed by Steven Weitzman of Creative Form Liners, Inc. 
Though all of the sessions I attended carried an important message, I was most profoundly impacted by the moderated panel discussion, Takin’ it to the Streets: Incorporating Public Art into your Community Cultural Plan

Moderated by Debby Williams, panelists Ken Busby, Robbie Kienzle, Randel Shadid, and Larry Walker each discussed the public art sector in each of their towns, Tulsa, OKC, Edmond, and Norman. Several methods and ideas were introduced, offering advice for listeners interested in starting a public art program in their community as well as additional measures that can be taken for further community involvement.

One interesting solution to the problem of funding art projects is the private-public funds matching program adopted by Edmond. Through this program, the contribution of a private donor is matched by the city to purchase a work of art to be displayed publically. Due to the success of the program, some 124 pieces have gone up around Edmond in the 10 years of its implementation.

By and large, the message of Takin’ it to the Streets focused on the importance of community involvement and how to make the investment of time or money for public artwork projects look appealing. Citizens like the idea of city beautification measures, including public art, and are proud of the work they participate in.

The benefits of public art can be quantified, even if an exact number of admission tickets can’t be counted. Public art provides free education to the community and group projects provide a sense of unity within the community.

See recent articles in Art Focus Oklahoma about the Oklahoma Art in Public Places as well as the  Tulsa, Norman, and Oklahoma City public art programs.

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