Public Art Program Pushed in Legislature 


On October 31st, public arts leaders spoke before the Massachusetts Legislature Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development. They urged support for the creation of the Massachusetts Public Art Program, which would invest an estimated $2 million a year towards the creation and preservation of public art on Commonwealth-owned properties. By guaranteeing a percent of new state capital expenditures be spent on projects, a dedicated stream of revenue will be available for public art.

Massachusetts has had similar public art programs, one which paid for public art on the MBTA Red Line Extension in the 1980s. In 2014, Governor Deval Patrick issued Executive Order 553 creating a similar public arts program, which became the basis for legislation that was passed as part of the 2016 budget. The legislation was vetoed by Governor Baker, citing technical issues. This bill represents a renewed attempt to secure public art funding into Massachusetts statute.

By passing this law, Massachusetts will catch up to the rest of the country. State public art programs exist in 28 states, including every other state in New England. Here in the Commonwealth, the municipalities of Cambridge, Boston, and Amherst have implemented versions of public art programs.

On October 31st, Matt Wilson, Al Wilson, Lillian Hsu, and Gloria Hall all testified before the Committee in support of the Massachusetts Public Art Program:

It is the arts, culture, and creativity embedded in the history of Massachusetts that have built connected communities and a vibrant, thriving economy across the Commonwealth. Public art helps make Massachusetts an exceptional place to live, work, play and visit.
-- MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson

Beyond Walls has created over 26,000 square feet of public art that is now viewable in downtown Lynn. This public art is helping to create a new narrative in Lynn. Businesses that were struggling have shared a huge increase in business. This has been tremendously beneficial to the local economy.
-- Al Wilson, founder and executive director of Beyond Walls

The Cambridge Public Art Ordinance of 1979 has made it possible to build a collection of over 200 works of site-specific art for the city, employing the imagination of artists to shape, enhance, and celebrate civic space. Public art programs deliver results and will do the same for Massachusetts.
-- Lillian Hsu, Director of Public Art and Exhibitions, Cambridge Arts Council, Cambridge, MA

Public art has the power to energize our public spaces, stimulate memory and our mind’s imagination. It invites pause and interaction and can transform the places where we live, study, work, play and provide and receive services into welcoming spaces for all of its users. There are studies that show public art is good for the health of the creator as well as the viewer.
-- Gloria Hall, Public Art Call Administrator & Project Manager, Art in the Park Worcester

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published this page in December 2017 News 2017-12-22 10:41:39 -0500

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