Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (April 24, 2013): Pushing ahead despite a somewhat uncertain future, public art commissioners took two actions tied to the city council’s pending overhaul of Ann Arbor’s public art program.
AAPAC voted to change the submission date of its annual public art plan to the city council, making it synch more closely with the process of developing the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP). Rather than submitting the art plan by April 1, that date has been pushed up to Feb. 1 – a move that will allow the council to make budget decisions based on recommendations from AAPAC.
Shifting the date of the annual plan is linked to a major restructuring of the city’s public art program. A city council committee has been developing a proposal for revisions to the public art ordinance – including elimination of the Percent for Art funding mechanism. The proposal is expected to appear on the council’s May 6 agenda.
At its April 24 meeting, AAPAC also recommended one more ordinance change that they hope the council will consider: Adding up to two student commissioners to the nine-member body. The goal is to involve a younger demographic and to reach a segment of the community that’s not currently active in AAPAC. Commissioners approved a memo that will be sent to the city council to recommend this change.
During a discussion about these and other changes to the program – including a shift to more private fundraising and partnerships – AAPAC chair Bob Miller observed that there might be a couple of years during this transition when “we won’t be making public art.” John Kotarski ventured that AAPAC’s role is to be visionary and to act as an advisor, “as opposed to a cashier.” Ashlee Arder, one of the newest commissioners, suggested that AAPAC consider how to rebrand itself, as it becomes a more participatory entity. Craig Hupy, the city’s public services area administrator, noted: “I think you’re walking into interesting times.”
In other action at the April 24 meeting, commissioners heard updates on a wide range of projects, including the Ed Carpenter sculpture that will be installed at the Justice Center over Memorial Day weekend. Finalists for the East Stadium bridge artwork will be making formal presentations of their proposals on June 7, and the artist selected in March for artwork in the Kingsley & First rain garden will be coming to town sometime in May for a public meeting at the site. A project spearheaded by the Huron River Watershed Council – to raise awareness of how the city’s stormdrain system connects to the river – has extended its deadline for artist submissions to May 14.
The commission is also accepting nominations until May 21 for the annual Golden Paintbrush awards, recognizing contributions to public art.
AAPAC chair Bob Miller reported that Maureen Devine has been suggested to replace Wiltrud Simbuerger, who resigned in March. Devine’s name has been submitted to the mayor, who is responsible for making nominations to most of the city’s advisory boards and commissions. Devine is art coordinator for the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex (NCRC).
The meeting started 30 minutes late for lack of a quorum, after it was clarified that commissioners had to be physically present in order to vote. Malverne Winborne participated in the meeting via conference call, but did not vote.