Akron launches new program to support public art


By Robin Goist - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)



AKRON, Ohio – Akron has adopted a new public art program to be funded by so-called tax-increment financing, and that will include a governance structure and guidelines for selecting artists in an equitable way.

The public art program, proposed last month by Mayor Dan Horrigan and approved unanimously this week by City Council, will be led by the nine-member Public Art Commission of people appointed by Horrigan and approved by council.

The city defines public art as a work that is visible and accessible to the public for at least 40 hours per week. The program is part of the larger Akron Cultural Plan, which began in 2019 and was recently revised due to the coronavirus pandemic. The most recent version of the report is available here.

In creating the cultural plan, the city and nonprofit ArtsNow interviewed hundreds of residents and held community forums in which people indicated they wanted more public art – specifically, public art that is “open, equitable and neighborhood-centric,” the city said in a news release.

“This program is the culmination of two years of working together with the community to determine how to best advance cultural diversity, increase opportunities to create art and culture, and provide vibrant experiences for all Akron residents,” Horrigan said. “I can’t wait to see what we are able to accomplish together through this program.”

The ordinance approved by the city establishes a nine-member Public Art Commission, with commissioners serving two-year terms for up to six years, and Council President or a designee serving as an ex officio member. The commission will make decisions regarding public art including reviewing proposals, making recommendations and working with the city to create an annual public art plan for budgets and goals.

The public art program also calls for using 1% of the city’s tax-increment financing, or TIF, revenue generated from new developments across the city to pay for new public art projects and to maintain existing ones.

City projections show that, within 10 years, 1% of TIF revenue would generate between $40,000 to $110,000 a year that could go toward artist fees, materials and installations, acquiring or relocating existing works of art, permits and insurance, informational or promotional materials and contractors.

Akron wants to hear from residents who would like to serve on the Public Art Commission. To avoid conflicts of interest, commissioners will be ineligible to seek or receive any public art contract from the city. Members must be Akron residents. If interested, fill out the form here.

For more information, visit www.akronpublicart.com.

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By Robin Goist

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

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