The growing importance of public art in Hopkins—and the prospect of a donated sculpture—have prompted city officials to consider a formal policy on the role of public art and how to manage its collection.
Public art is already featured in Hopkins through its Artstreet program, and it will be a big part of the “ARTery”— a stretch of Eighth Avenue that Hopkins aims to transform into a “pedestrian-seductive” corridor. People at a get-together to brainstorm ARTery ideas suggested possibilities like a giant picture frame that people could stand in and a pedestrian bridge that lights up when people are on it.
In addition, a resident has asked about donating a sculpture, said Susan Hanna-Bibus, the city’s director of arts programs and marketing. And developers have begun contributing “art dedication fees” that will be used to both maintain existing art and acquire new art.
Since expanding and maintaining the city’s art collection isn’t a straightforward process, officials hope a formal policy will ensure the city gets the right additions, treats everyone fairly and takes best advantage of the opportunities that arise.
The formal policy begins by stating the city’s purpose for public art as follows:
The City of Hopkins recognizes the value that the arts play in a vibrant community and supports public art programs and activities that meet the following objectives:
- To provide meaningful aesthetic and cultural experiences for Hopkins residents, business owners and employees, and visitors, adding to the vibrancy of the community
- To attract new residents and new visitors, including but not limited to cultural tourists
- To showcase and/or collect artwork that demonstrates the creativity and innovation practiced in the arts, stimulates discussion and exchange of ideas, honors the history and heritage of Hopkins, and/or reflects the character and diversity of Hopkins
(Click on the PDF to the right of this article to read the full text of the proposed policy.)
Hopkins set a deliberately broad definition of public art so as not to limit the types of art—in fact, coordinators are deliberately looking to expand beyond sculptures, Hanna-Bibus noted.
But under the proposed policy, a new “Public Art Advisory Committee” would use those criteria to determine whether it’s in the city’s interest to purchase or accept a new piece of art. The committee would send its recommendation to the City Council, which would then vote on whether to accept the committee’s recommendation.
Just as importantly, the new policy would establish a way to get rid of public art that’s aged beyond repair or no longer fits the city’s goals. When art is removed from the city’s collection, the artist would have the first opportunity to reacquire the piece. If that’s not possible, the city could sell it, donate it, recycle it or destroy it.
Right now, the city plans for the committee to be made up of Hanna-Bibus; Kersten Elverum, the director of economic development and planning; Jay Strachota, the parks and streets superintendent, two artists; a representative of the business community and a former councilwoman.
Next, the city attorney will review the policy. It should be up for formal City Council approval in about a month.
What do you think is the purpose of public art? What types of pieces would you like to see in Hopkins? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.