Three weeks ago I wrote that the Lancaster County Community Foundation was giving $200,000 to the City of Lancaster to establish a public arts department. The city is going to use that money to hire a public arts manager, Bernard Harris reports in this afternoon’s New Era. The idea of the department and the manager came out of a “Lancaster Public Art Action Plan” (pdf), which was completed on October 28 by the Community Foundation and the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design.
Two people spoke to Mr. Harris about the plan: Mayor Rick Gray, who is the main proponent of this public arts initiative, and public works director Charlotte Katzenmoyer.
In a nutshell, it will be the role of the public arts manager to figure out how to keep the city getting more beautiful, rather than more ugly, over the coming years. That will likely take a mix of public policy (standard procedures and guidelines), ordinances (such as requiring 1% of the amount spent on new construction projects to be spent on public art or aesthetics), funding, awareness, and advocacy.
It sounds like the newly-hired public arts manager will be given the opportunity to study what other cities have done to foster public art. The manager will then be asked to suggest an overall public arts initiative for Lancaster city and present plans for how to make it happen.
It’s likely that a volunteer Public Arts Committee will be formed as well.
What do you think of this idea? What type of person should be considered for this position? How can we make sure that this program succeeds after the 3-year $200,000 grant dries up?
For those of you who are a part of the Creative House of Lancaster, it’s likely we’ll work together to bring a grassroots arts perspective to this initiative.