An artists’ computer-generated rendering of an untitled gateway by Ann Norton, commissioned by the City of West Palm Beach for the Okeechobee Boulevard median near Sapodilla Avenue
Ann Norton sculpture delayed as public art program prepares for funding boom
Palm Beach Daily News
By Jan Sjostrom
Two years after the City of West Palm Beach approved commissioning a 35-foot Ann Norton sculpture for the Okeechobee Boulevard median next door to the Kravis Center not a single brick has been laid.
The delay is connected to changes in the city’s public art ordinance that are likely to uncork a gusher of new money for public art. The revision, approved in March, adds private construction to certain city-financed building projects as a source of financing for public art.
Under the new ordinance, municipal, commercial and multi-family residential projects with above-ground costs exceeding $500,000 will be assessed 1 percent for the public art fund. As an alternative, developers can provide artwork or historical or cultural elements of equivalent value, with the approval of the city’s art in public places advisory board and the city commission.
“We anticipate collecting up to $3 million over the next 12 months if building permits are issued the way we expect them to be,” said Christine Thrower, director of the parks and recreation department, which oversees public art.
That’s a huge leap from the $535,000 the city collected from 2000 to 2012, when the city spent a little more than $69,000 on public art projects.
With so much money on the way, the city has determined it needs a public art master plan. The city has selected IBI Group, a global architecture, planning, engineering and technology firm with offices in Pompano Beach, to create the plan. The plan must be completed by May. The city also intends to hire a public art coordinator, its first staff person wholly dedicated to public art.
The Ann Norton sculpture, which was to be executed in consultation with the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, will be re-examined in the context of the new master plan, city leaders said.
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Municipalities all across Florida are creating and implementing Public Art Master Plans. This year dozens have applied to the Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs grant programs. Most will be recommended for full funding. These grants were applied for as part of master plans to revitalize downtowns, create new city spaces by reclaiming abandon lots or enhance already important city parks.
Cities gain value through public art - cultural, social, and economic value. Public art is a distinguishing part of our public history and our evolving culture. It reflects and reveals our society, adds meaning to our cities and uniqueness to our communities. public art humanizes the built environment and invigorates public spaces. It provides an intersection between past, present and future. GL