Public Art Commission Eyes Uncertain Future

Discussion centers on need for strategic coordination, promotion of existing projects; vacancy in wake of commissioner Reid's resignation

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Nov. 28, 2012): In their first meeting after the Nov. 6 defeat of a public art millage proposal, AAPAC members discussed the Percent for Art program’s future in the context of city council proposals that could reduce funding or eliminate the program entirely.

Margaret Parker, Ann Arbor public art commission, Percent for Art, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Margaret Parker, former chair of the Ann Arbor public art commission, attended AAPAC’s Nov. 28 meeting and volunteered to help with outreach and promotion. (Photos by the writer.)

Aaron Seagraves, the city’s part-time public art administrator, highlighted several projects that have been in the pipeline and that will likely be completed in 2013: a $150,000 hanging glass sculpture by Ed Carpenter, to be installed in the Justice Center lobby this spring; artwork for a new rain garden being built at Kingsley & First next spring; and public art for the East Stadium bridges, with a $400,000 budget. Artists haven’t yet been selected for those last two projects, but it’s hoped that the work will be finished by the end of 2013.

Much of the conversation among commissioners focused on how to  improve promotion and coordination of the work they’ve done to date, and to explain their vision for public art in Ann Arbor.

“We’ve got a fair amount of work to do in the next few months,” said Marsha Chamberlin, AAPAC’s chair.

Two members of the arts community – former AAPAC chair Margaret Parker and Deb Polich, executive director of the Arts Alliance and president of Artrain, who had also co-chaired the “B for Art” millage campaign committee – attended the meeting. During public commentary, Parker volunteered to help with outreach efforts, and gave commissioners a list of suggestions for promoting the city’s public art program.

Also attending the Nov. 28 meeting was city councilmember Sabra Briere (Ward 1). She has proposed changing the public art ordinance to narrow the type of projects that could be tapped for public art funding. The effect would be to dramatically cut the amount of funds available for public art. A second proposal, by Jane Lumm (Ward 2), would simply eliminate the program. Both of those proposals were tabled by the council on Nov. 19. But at its Dec. 3 meeting, the city council is expected to act on yet another proposal – made by Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) – to appoint a committee to study the city’s approach to public art. Her proposal would also suspend the expenditure of funds, with several exceptions, that have accumulated for public art.

Update: At their Dec. 3 meeting, the city council voted to suspend the spending of funds accumulated through Ann Arbor’s Percent for Art program until April 1, 2013 – except for projects that are already underway. A committee consisting of Sally Petersen (Ward 2), Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) has been appointed to recommend amendments to the city’s public art program. The committee is charged with making a recommendation to the council by Feb. 15, 2013.

AAPAC faces other changes as well. At the Nov. 28 meeting, Chamberlin noted that Theresa Reid has resigned from the commission. Reid, who is executive director of the ArtsEngine at the University of Michigan, had been appointed to AAPAC in February 2012. In response to an email query from The Chronicle, Reid cited time commitments for work and family, and said her resignation was not related to the Nov. 6 defeat of the public art millage.

During the Nov. 28 meeting, Chamberlin urged commissioners to solicit potential candidates for a replacement. An appointment will be made with a nomination by the mayor and confirmation by the full city council. An application for all city boards and commissions is available on the city clerk’s website.

Future of Public Art in Ann Arbor

At its Nov. 19 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council considered and ultimately delayed action on three separate resolutions related to the city’s public art program.

Councilmember Jane Lumm (Ward 2) proposed to eliminate the program entirely. A second agenda item, put forward by Sabra Briere (Ward 1), would revise the definition of projects to which the public ordinance applies and would add requirements for public participation. The result would be to reduce the amount of public art funding by about 90%. For the last two fiscal years, the Percent for Art program has generated roughly $300,000. If the ordinance revisions had been in place, only about $25,000 would have been generated. [.jpg of chart showing public art allocations] Both proposals were tabled by the council at its Nov. 19 meeting.

The council also postponed a resolution added to the agenda during the Nov. 19 meeting to appoint a committee to study the issue and to suspend the expenditure of funds currently allocated for public art, although there would be exceptions for projects already underway. The resolution on the committee and temporary suspension, which was brought forward by Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), was postponed until Dec. 3. The timeframe for a recommendation on how to move ahead with either revision or termination of the Percent for Art ordinance would be April 2013.

Briere attended AAPAC’s Nov. 28 meeting, but did not formally address the commission. In an email sent to constituents on Dec. 1, Briere included an online survey about public funding for art. She had previously surveyed constituents in September on the issue. [.pdf of Briere's September 2012 survey results]

These proposals come in the wake of a failed public art millage that had been placed on the Nov. 6 ballot by the city council. The 0.1 mill tax – which was expected to generate around $450,000 annually – was rejected by 28,166 voters (55.86%), with support from 22,254 voters (44.14%). Although the arts community had campaigned to support the millage, many arts leaders had advised the council not to put it on the ballot at this time. Councilmember Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) had first put forward the ballot proposal in August, eight weeks before the election. [See Chronicle coverage: "Despite Worries, Art Commission Backs Millage."]

The current funding program remains in place. For all of the city’s capital projects, 1% of the budget – up to a cap of $250,000 – is set aside for public art. There is currently a balance of $1.526 million in the Percent for Art program. Of that, $845,133 has been earmarked for previously approved projects, leaving about $681,000 unallocated. [.pdf of budget summary]

Implications of the council’s possible actions were an underlying theme throughout AAPAC’s Nov. 28 meeting.

Future of Public Art: Public Commentary

Two people from the arts community attended Wednesday’s meeting: Deb Polich, executive director of the Arts Alliance and president of Artrain, who had also co-chaired the “B for Art” millage campaign committee; and Margaret Parker, a local artist and former AAPAC chair.

Margaret Parker, Ann Arbor public art commission, Percent for Art, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Margaret Parker on Election Day (Nov. 6, 2012) in front of the downtown Ann Arbor library, urging voters to support the public art millage.

Polich did not formally address the board, but Parker spoke during both opportunities for public commentary.

Now that the council is reassessing the Percent for Art program, Parker said, it’s important to get out as much information as possible about what AAPAC has accomplished and how the program works. It takes so much time to actually work on the projects, she noted, that there’s little time available to do promotion.

She noted that Bob Miller, an AAPAC commissioner, has been sending out emails with links to public art programs in other cities and states, including some that use videos to promote their work. That’s great, she said, but she wondered who has time to do that kind of thing in Ann Arbor.

Parker told commissioners that she wanted to offer her time and help to promote AAPAC’s work. She provided a handout with suggestions about possible actions. [.pdf of Parker's handout]

Parker’s suggestions include:

  • Arrange a panel discussion on CTN’s Access Ann Arbor, a 30-minute program aired on Channel 17.
  • Use the upcoming documentary that Dana Denha of CTN is doing on the Herbert Dreiseitl project – show it continuously in a monitor set up in the city hall atrium.
  • Line up stories on upcoming projects in a consistent way so that something is coming out every two weeks. Use upcoming projects to teach how the public art process works.
  • Establish a press network that takes a positive approach.
  • Involve city councilmembers in the coverage of projects in their wards – make them part of the story.
  • Get interviews on public radio.
  • Give tours of city hall public art, emphasizing the pedestrian scale of the pieces.

Later in the meeting, commissioner John Kotarski praised Parker’s involvement, including her efforts to create the Percent for Art program several years ago, and her previous work on AAPAC. He noted that she jumped into the millage campaign and worked hard on that, too. ”You are a treasure for Ann Arbor, Margaret,” he said.

Kotarski noted that even though the public art millage proposal was defeated on Nov. 6, about 22,000 people did vote for it. After the defeat, Parker had picked herself up again and is now offering more help, he said, and that’s commendable. Other commissioners offered their thanks to Parker as well.

Future of Public Art: Commission Discussion

AAPAC chair Marsha Chamberlin thanked everyone who attended the Nov. 19 city council meeting, and for those who campaigned for the public art millage. She noted that before the election, she and Margaret Parker had spent time at the Ann Arbor farmers market talking with people about the millage. They’d had some interesting interactions, she said. Chamberlin also praised the Arts Alliance for its support, as well as Mike Henry and Jeremy Peters.

Chamberlin reported that the Allmendinger Park mural dedication earlier this month had been a success. It’s the first completed mural in a program that launched two years ago. “When we feel a little under the gun or downtrodden, one day like that can really bring your spirits up,” Chamberlin said

On Monday, Dec. 3, the Ann Arbor city council is expected to vote on establishing a committee to evaluate the Percent for Art program and to look at how the city might best implement a public art program, Chamberlin noted. So AAPAC has a lot of work to do, she said. When Chamberlin mentioned that she had emailed councilmembers offering the assistance of AAPAC in this process, Bob Miller asked whether she’d gotten any responses from them. Chamberlin noted that this was her last week as president of the Ann Arbor Art Center, so she’d been busy wrapping up her work there and had only sent out the emails within the past two days. But no, she had not received any replies.

At that point, Ward 1 councilmember Sabra Briere – who attended the meeting as an observer – spoke up to say that she hadn’t received the email. Chamberlin then explained that she hadn’t sent it to all councilmembers.

Chamberlin continued, saying that AAPAC needs to make sure that councilmembers and others are aware of the work that’s been done. There’s a lot in the pipeline, she noted. But while it feels like commissioners have talked to a lot of people about these projects, as a percentage, she said, they’ve only reached a relatively small portion of the population.

Future of Public Art: Commission Discussion – Public Relations

Later in the meeting, Connie Brown said she felt the commission should address the issues that Margaret Parker had raised. Commissioners have been working diligently to coordinate their efforts and get the word out about AAPAC’s projects, Brown said, but they weren’t always executing to the best of their ability. Perhaps they needed to better coordinate with the city council, she said, or to improve the tracking of each project’s status, or better inform the general public. The lesson of the “quadrant” meetings in October showed the importance of location in their outreach efforts, Brown added.

Connie Rizzolo Brown, Ann Arbor public art commission, Percent for Art, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Connie Rizzolo Brown.

As background, Brown was referring to an outreach effort that involves setting up task forces to represent four quadrants of Ann Arbor that are designated in the city master plan’s “land use elements” section: west, central, south and northeast. [.pdf map of quadrants] Two or more of the nine AAPAC members will be responsible for each quadrant, charged with soliciting input from residents in selecting public art. Four meetings were held in October to kick off this effort, but in general attendance was low.

At the Nov. 28 meeting, Brown said she felt that AAPAC needed to weave its efforts together more cohesively. She didn’t have a specific proposal, but told commissioners she felt it was something important to contemplate. They needed to learn from and build on their experiences, she said, noting that “we kind of keep coming back to this discussion again and again.”

John Kotarski, who joined the commission in January, said the commission’s vision is blurred and they haven’t shown as much leadership as they could. That fact opens them to criticism, he said. They are citizen volunteers and don’t have the resources to manage a multi-million dollar program, he noted, so their vision needs to be as sharp as it can be, and their processes need to be as open as possible. “That’s what I’m hearing from folks,” he said.

Marsha Chamberlin wondered whether other commissioners felt that AAPAC’s vision and mission weren’t clear. She pointed out that AAPAC has a mission statement, though perhaps it wasn’t always at the forefront of people’s minds.

AAPAC’s mission statement is included in its most recent annual report and its fiscal 2013 annual plan:

To bring public art to the City of Ann Arbor that improves the aesthetic quality of public spaces and structures, provides for cultural and recreational opportunities, contributes to local heritage, stimulates economic activity, and promotes the general welfare of the community.

[.pdf of AAPAC bylaws] [.pdf of AAPAC guidelines] [.pdf of fiscal 2013 annual plan] [.pdf of annual report of activities for fiscal 2011 and annual report for fiscal 2012] [.pdf of strategic plan]

Kotarski felt that the mission statement painted with a broad brush. It doesn’t tell people where AAPAC stands regarding public art for gateways, or an art park, or working with schools or businesses, or a range of other issues, he said. When Bob Miller wondered whether Kotarski was talking about the strategic plan, Kotarski replied that it’s more than a vision – it’s a concrete plan so that people will know what to expect from AAPAC, and when.

Chamberlin pointed out that they were discussing two different things: (1) process-related issues like project tracking and public relations; and  (2) broader issues of strategic direction, which she felt were spelled out in AAPAC’s strategic plan. The commission has been hampered with respect to its long-term strategy, she said, because now they weren’t sure whether the public art program will exist in a few months. That uncertainty makes it hard to know where to focus their energies, she said. In general, it was important to build and communicate the case for having a strong public art program.

John Kotarski, Ann Arbor public art commission, Percent for Art, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

John Kotarski.

Kotarski argued that AAPAC shouldn’t be distracted by what’s happening at the city council. They just need to work as efficiently and diligently as they can, he said, and to answer some of these questions about their future direction. It’s not just enumerating projects, he added, but rather putting those projects into the context of a strategic vision.

Malverne Winborne noted that AAPAC seems to have gotten away from using some of the tools it has developed – specifically, its project-tracking spreadsheet, and long-term strategic plan. Because that has happened, he said, “we get lost.”

Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator, said he had previously brought updated versions of the project-tracking spreadsheet to AAPAC’s monthly meetings, but he hadn’t done that recently. He said he’d start that routine again.

Calling for another retreat, Winborne said that even if AAPAC is de-commissioned, public art will continue in some form. So they need to ensure that processes are in place to allow a cohesive continuation of public art in the city.

Chamberlin felt they needed to move the conversation forward, and said she’d like to have AAPAC’s PR committee look at these issues. She offered to coordinate a time for her, Kotarski, Seagraves, and Cathy Gendron – the PR committee’s chair, who did not attend the Nov. 28 meeting – to meet, along with Margaret Parker.

Parker addressed this issue during the meeting’s final opportunity for public commentary. She noted that the public art plan, which AAPAC completes in the spring, should serve as their guide for priority setting. It’s developed based on AAPAC’s mission, she said, and should be tied to the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP). That’s the beauty of the Percent for Art approach, Parker said – as capital projects come through the city, they provide funding for public art, which should be coordinated with those capital projects from the beginning. [For all capital projects, 1% of the budget – up to a cap of $250,000 – is set aside for public art.] She felt that a millage approach, while providing more flexibility, wouldn’t give the underlying organizing principal for public art to be integrated into city projects.

Chamberlin pointed out that the downside to the Percent for Art approach is the requirement that all public art projects must be linked thematically to their funding source, and can’t be temporary.

Outcome: This was not an action item, and no vote was taken.

Partnership with DDA

John Kotarski reported that he and Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator, had met earlier this month with Susan Pollay, executive director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

As a result of that meeting, Kotarski was offering to chair a rapid-response team for AAPAC that could be available to respond quickly to requests from groups like the DDA. Pollay had indicated that the DDA typically needed a timely response when projects arise, he said. The team might be useful in helping the DDA identify artists for potential DDA-funded projects, or help navigate city bureaucracy if necessary. Kotarski invited others to join the team, which he suggested starting informally.

Saying it was a great idea, Marsha Chamberlin also expressed some caution. She wondered if it would open the city to liability, if something went wrong with a project that didn’t directly involve AAPAC, but that AAPAC was helping to facilitate. Kotarski didn’t think there were liability issues – the team would act as liaisons and advocates, not as official representatives of the city.

Charles McGee artwork on the Carver Building, Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Charles McGee artwork – “The Spirit of Ann Arbor” – on the Carver Building at 500-506 E. Liberty St.

Pollay believes that a lot of public art is happening that’s not necessarily funded by the city, Kotarski reported. He gave as an example the recent installation of a work by Charles McGee – titled “The Spirit of Ann Arbor” – commissioned by John Carver for a downtown building that Carver owns at 500-506 E. Liberty St. AAPAC should recognize and celebrate projects like this, Kotarski said, even if the projects aren’t funded by the city’s Percent for Art program.

Kotarski pointed out that part of AAPAC’s mission, as laid out in the city’s public art ordinance, is to facilitate public art in general. [The ordinance lists several duties of the commission, including "promote awareness of public art." .pdf of public art ordinance]

Noting that Carver had contacted Margaret Parker to help find an artist, Kotarski said that were it not for AAPAC, Carver would not likely have known to contact Parker. Parker is an ambassador for art throughout the city, Kotarski said, and AAPAC should recognize that. People should realize that making these connections is one benefit of having a public art commission, he said.

By way of background, AAPAC had attempted a formal partnership with the DDA several years ago. A draft set of guidelines was developed that AAPAC could use for assisting in DDA-funded public art projects. Former commissioner Jim Curtis had spearheaded that effort, but when he left AAPAC in 2010, there was no further action on it.

Project Updates

Throughout the Nov. 28 meeting, commissioners and Aaron Seagraves – the city’s public art administrator – provided updates for several ongoing projects. Here’s a summary:

  • Justice Center: Work on the $150,000 hanging glass sculpture for the lobby of the Justice Center – by Oregon artist Ed Carpenter – is moving ahead, and the structural engineering is completed. The sculpture, called “Radius,” was approved by the city council in May of 2012 based on AAPAC’s recommendation. Expected installation: March or April of 2013.
  • Argo Cascades: A statement of qualifications (SOQ) will likely be issued in early December for this project to place artwork in the city park along Argo Cascades. [SOQs for the city are posted online here.] AAPAC approved a $150,000 budget for that project in April of 2012. Expected completion: End of 2013.
  • East Stadium bridges: The deadline for submitting responses to an SOQ for artwork along the new East Stadium bridges was extended until Dec. 5. There are 15 responses so far, but Seagraves expects more to come as the deadline approaches. The $400,000 budget for that project was recommended by AAPAC in March of 2012. Expected completion of project: End of 2013.
  • Kingsley & First rain garden: A request for proposals (RFP) was issued earlier this month for artwork to be included in a rain garden at the city-owned lot at Kingsley & First. [RFPs for the city are posted online here.] Responses are due on Jan. 10. The project has a budget of $27,000. Expected completion: August 2013.
  • Forest Avenue plaza: A meeting is scheduled for Dec. 5 with task force members and city staff to discuss a public art project for the plaza, located next to the Forest Avenue parking structure near South University. AAPAC voted at its Aug. 22, 2012 meeting to move ahead on it, with a budget of up to $35,000.
  • State & Ellsworth roundabout: Bob Miller is the AAPAC point person for a project incorporating artwork into a roundabout being built at the intersection of South State and Ellsworth. He reported that they’re still looking for people to work on a task force to guide the project. Marsha Chamberlin suggested employees at one of the several Zingerman’s businesses in that area, or any number of photographers and other artists who work in that part of town.
  • Sign for Dreiseitl sculpture: Seagraves reported that a sign explaining the water sculpture by Herbert Dreiseitl – located in front of city hall – will be designed and fabricated by Quinn Evans Architects, as part of their existing contract with the city. When asked by Bob Miller how much the sign would cost, Seagraves again stated that it would be part of the original contract that Quinn Evans has with the city. By way of background, Quinn Evans has provided a range of services related to construction of the Justice Center and renovation of city hall, including oversight of the construction and installation of the Dreisietl sculpture. The Ann Arbor firm’s contracts with the city, as amended over the past few years, exceed $6 million.
  • Canoe Art: At AAPAC’s Oct. 24, 2012 meeting, Marsha Chamberlin had proposed a possible community project using about 100 old aluminum canoes that the city was planning to get rid of. She plans to bring forward a formal proposal, but told commissioners on Nov. 28 that she hadn’t yet had time to finish that. She thinks the city will need some kind of outside funding for it. Applying for a state grant – from the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs – might be an option.

Seagraves also provided commissioners with a budget summary on Percent for Art funds, showing a balance of $1.526 million. Of that, $845,133 has been earmarked for previously approved projects, leaving about $681,000 unallocated. [.pdf of budget summary] There was no discussion of the budget.

Bob Miller, Marsha Chamberlin, Ann Arbor public art commission, Percent for Art, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Ann Arbor public art commissioners Bob Miller and Marsha Chamberlin.

In his administrator’s report, Seagraves mentioned several other items as well. An update of the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP) will be reviewed by the Ann Arbor planning commission in December, he said, and he plans to bring the CIP to AAPAC for review at its Dec. 19 meeting. Commissioners discussed the importance of identifying potential projects as early as possible, and the CIP plan can be instrumental in doing that.

Another item for the December agenda will be a draft SOQ to create a pre-qualified pool of artists for future projects. The intent is to speed the selection process. It’s an approach that’s already being used more narrowly for future murals, and this broader SOQ will provide a pool of potential artists for any type of project.

A discussion about the next steps for the quadrant project was deferred until the December meeting, too.

A proposal for a possible “street art” program, which John Kotarski had brought forward at AAPAC’s September meeting, was not mentioned.

Project Updates: Maintenance

During the discussion about project updates, John Kotarski questioned how maintenance costs were accounted for in completed projects. He raised concerns that it wasn’t clear how maintenance for public art projects would be paid for in the future.

Aaron Seagraves explained that regular maintenance is paid for by the unit where the artwork is located – for example, the tree sculptures in West Park will be maintained by the city’s parks maintenance budget. However, if it’s more than regular maintenance, the funding would come from the Percent for Art funds. Seagraves noted that specific funds aren’t allocated for maintenance currently because there have always been excess funds in the Percent for Art budget. However, he said it would be good to address that issue, in light of current proposals at city council to reduce or eliminate funding.

Marsha Chamberlin asked Seagraves to prepare a report for the December meeting to clarify the maintenance issue. She noted that AAPAC has been guided by information provided by Sue McCormick, the city’s former public services area administrator. Chamberlin also reported that there is a small amount available for public art maintenance in a fund held by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.

Vacancy on AAPAC

Theresa Reid had been the newest member of AAPAC, appointed in February of 2012, for a term ending Dec. 31, 2015. At the commission’s Nov. 28 meeting, AAPAC chair Marsha Chamberlin noted that Reid had resigned earlier in the month.

Theresa Reid, Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Theresa Reid at a February 2012 AAPAC retreat.

Reid is executive director of the ArtsEngine at the University of Michigan. In an email to The Chronicle on Nov. 29, Reid said her university job has greatly expanded – she’s launching a national organization, Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru). Beyond that, she said she wants to spend any free time with her daughters, ages 16 and 12.

Reid said her resignation was not related to the Nov. 6 defeat of the public art millage, and that she had decided earlier this fall to resign.

She had not mentioned her intent to resign at any of AAPAC’s regular meetings. She did not attend the October meeting, but in September she and John Kotarski had proposed to form a task force that would explore the possibility of starting a street art program.

In her email to The Chronicle, Reid stated that “I hope very much to be able to rejoin the commission, in whatever form it’s in, when I have more time at my disposal.”

During the Nov. 28 meeting, Chamberlin urged commissioners to solicit potential candidates for a replacement. An appointment will be made with a nomination by the mayor and confirmation by the full city council. An application for all city boards and commissions is available on the city clerk’s website.

There was also some confusion about the status of Tony Derezinski, who had been appointed to AAPAC when he served on city council. He did not attend the Nov. 28 meeting, and some commissioners were under the impression that he would no longer be serving on AAPAC because he is no longer on city council. He lost the August 2012 Democratic primary for Ward 2 to Sally Petersen, who was sworn in as a new councilmember on Nov. 19.

Derezinski’s original appointment to AAPAC was not as a council liaison – but rather as an appointment to replace Jeff Meyers in August 2011, for a term ending Nov. 6, 2011. Then at the council’s Dec. 5, 2011 meeting, AAPAC for the first time was included in a list of “council committees” to which councilmembers are appointed annually. And on that list, Derezinski was designated as the appointee to AAPAC for 2012.

AAPAC’s bylaws do not designate a slot for a city council representative to serve as a voting member on the nine-person group. From the bylaws:

Article IV Membership

Section 1. As provided in Section 1:238 of the City Code, AAPAC shall consist of nine (9) voting members nominated by the Mayor and approved by City Council. The City Administrator or her/his designee shall be a nonvoting ex-officio member of AAPAC. Appointments of the nine (9) voting members shall be made from candidates who have the following expertise or affiliation:

Persons who, insofar as possible, have experience and/or an interest in the placement, creation, or design of public art.

Section 2. All members of AAPAC, including members of its subcommittees, shall serve without compensation.

Section 3. All voting members of AAPAC shall be appointed for a three-year term. In order to insure that approximately one third of the voting members’ appointments expire each year, initial appointments shall be three (3) members for a one-year term, three (3) members for a two-year term, and three (3) members for a three-year term as provided in Section 1:238(2)(A) of the City Code.

Section 4. Consistent with City Charter Section 12.2, all members of AAPAC shall be registered electors in the City of Ann Arbor, unless an exception is granted by a resolution concurred in by at least seven (7) members of City Council.

Section 5. Members whose term has expired shall hold over and continue to serve as members of AAPAC until a successor has been appointed. Consistent with City Code Section 1:171, no member shall be allowed to hold over for more than sixty (60) days beyond the appointed term whether or not a successor has been appointed, except that City Council may extend terms for periods of ninety (90) days upon the recommendation of the Mayor and vote of at least six (6) members of Council.

Section 6. Consistent with City Code Section 1:171, the Mayor shall notify City Council of the expiration of a member’s term at least thirty (30) days prior and shall present to City Council all proposed reappointments no later than sixty (60) days after the expiration of the term.

Section 7. Consistent with City Code Section 1:171, any vacancy on AAPAC occurring in the middle of a term shall be filled for the remainder of the term in the same manner as for full-term appointments.

Section 8. Members are expected to attend regularly scheduled meetings and to notify the Chair and the Public Art Administrator or other person designated by the Public Services Area Administrator in advance if they expect to be tardy or absent. If a member misses more than three (3) regularly scheduled meetings in a twelve (12) month period, the Chair shall notify the Mayor and may recommend removal of the member.

Section 9. A member of AAPAC may be removed by City Council for cause following notice and a hearing.

So according to the bylaws, if Derezinski is currently serving on AAPAC at all, it would be as a citizen, not as a councilmember. However, the council did not reappoint him to a full term when the partial term of his original appointment expired in November of 2011.

The second terms for two other commissioners – Connie Brown and Cathy Gendron – end on Dec. 31, 2012. They have not yet been nominated for reappointment.

Commissioners present: Connie Rizzolo Brown, Marsha Chamberlin, John Kotarski, Bob Miller, Malverne Winborne. Also Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator.

Absent: Tony Derezinski, Cathy Gendron, Wiltrud Simbuerger.

Next regular meeting: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. at city hall, 301 E. Huron St. [Check Chronicle events listing to confirm date]

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  1. December 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm | permalink

    As always, such an excellent, complete summary. Thank you for giving us a window into meetings and processes that we would not otherwise understand.

    I have been rather publicly against the Percent for Art program (4 blog posts plus a number of comments). Yet I agree that having an Ann Arbor Public Arts Commission makes a lot of sense when it provides a medium for facilitating gifts of art.

    I also admire the civic activism of the members of the commission. Many people living in our small city have a variety of views on different subjects. Yet the energy and dedication brought by citizen volunteers is valuable to all of us, even when we disagree on details. Thanks to the members of this commission for their hard work.

  2. December 3, 2012 at 11:06 am | permalink

    I think one of the problems public art funding faces originates with the Council’s original decision to avoid seeking voter approval. The Council circumvented the voters by skimming funds from capital projects (including those funded by restricted funds) rather than seek a millage. The tiny 0.1 mill arts tax would likely have passed in 2007 but Council was afraid of the voters. Now we have the experience of trying the end run around the voters and the experience of expensive fountain and light fixture for city hall. That tiny millage can’t pass.

    A second problem with arts funding is that the percent for arts program accumulates funds before an art purchase has been identified. The rapid amassing of funds for art creates pressure to buy some art – any art. Perhaps, we should have a process that identifies the art we would like — something that uniquely characterizes or fits Ann Arbor — and then look for the means to pay for it. Perhaps we would find ourselves buying more local art, or at least art that makes you reflect on our community. There is nothing about the “Radius” piece that reflects the character or feel of Ann Arbor. It seems more like a light fixture you’d find in an Art Van furniture store.

    I hope that Council Member Higgins’ resolution passes. I’d like to see it amended to stop all spending that has not yet been approved. Perhaps with some time and study, a Council committee can identify how to buy art that fits Ann Arbor rather than just buying lots of art.

  3. By Steve Bean
    December 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm | permalink

    @2: “Perhaps with some time and study, a Council committee can identify how to buy art that fits Ann Arbor rather than just buying lots of art.”

    There’s a third option (at least), which would be to select artworks that appeal to many people, mainly current Ann Arborites. What “fits Ann Arbor” might be a dead-end discussion.

    As for “lots of art”, wouldn’t a balance between quantity and quality or some consideration of the tradeoffs between spreading installations around the city versus fewer pieces in fewer places be reasonable?

    I also still think it would be worth considering whether the DDA would be a better administrator of a public art program focused on the downtown. Of course, that runs into the question of whether citizens approve of the DDA at all as a public fund fiduciary.

    Ultimately, I think the proponents of public art will need to make a clearer, stronger case for publicly funded art as well as public art. What are the community benefits beyond the obvious? For example, is there a reverse “broken window effect”-type influence that it has on people?

    Property tax revenues (not to mention state revenue sharing and other special funding) will be declining in coming years, so the whole question of public funding of art will be revisited in that context. Might as well consider it now.

  4. By Mark Koroi
    December 4, 2012 at 1:42 am | permalink

    City Council several hours ago discussed the One Per Cent For Art Program during its regular meeting and there were some scathing criticisms of it.

    Steve Kunselman recognized that the ordinance is unique in the State of Michigan and wanted an opinion from the Attorney General as to its legality. There was plenty of discussion of suspending the ordinance, limiting its operation – or abolishing it altogether.

    Sabra Briere discussed the lack of guidelines the Art Commission had in administering funding.

    My personal observation of the program is that the Art Commission itself has expressed surprise at the high level of funding it is getting. The public has been critical at the low quality of art that it has purchased and disgust over the fact worthy artists have been passed over to contract with outside persons for art services.

    A number of people attended to hear the discussions including Jack Eaton – who has had strong opinions about the ordinance.

    Margie Teall has been the strongest voice in favor of the ordinance.

    The voices that have opposed this ordinance need to continue to be heard. The One Per Cent For Art Ordinance shall be repealed – Jane Lumm and Sumi Kailasapathy have been voices of reason and they shall prevail.

  5. December 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm | permalink

    Re (4), Mark said “including Jack Eaton – who has had strong opinions about the ordinance.”

    Perhaps my campaign slogan next time should be “Jack Eaton – when weak opinions are not enough.”