Oct. 16, 2019
Don’t lower cap for spending on public art
As a member of the local community of artists, I was one of those lobbying the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners to institute the Percent for Art program in 2002. The recent Kitsap Sun story outlining the curtailing of this program by cutting it from 1% of qualifying Kitsap County capital projects to 1 ⁄ 2 of one percent was not good news to me.
But it also was not surprising.
There have long been cultural Luddites opposing programs that allocate a certain percentage for public art at the national, state and local levels, despite innumerable accounts and studies documenting the pivotal role these programs have played in boosting the economies in communities across the country. People are drawn to communities with vibrant cultural climates, both as places to live and work as well as places to visit and recreate.
Even more disturbing than the reduction to a half a percent is the capping of the allocation to $75,000 per project. This provision ensures that the biggest and most important projects will not be supported by artwork commensurate with the project’s importance. It is uncommon for capital projects in today’s economy not to exceed a couple of million dollars. Without the new caps, such a project would merit a $100,000 art budget. The missing $25,000 will lessen both the attractiveness of the project to top artists and the size or amount of art procured. It is the public that will suffer this diminution.
Alan Newberg is a founding member of Collective Visions Gallery in Bremerton.