Every so often I come back to the issue of public art in Kent — or the lack thereof. We’ve got some really talented local artists, both on campus and off, and we’ve got a couple outstanding art galleries in downtown Kent, but it seems to me that we’ve failed to extend the arts ethos very far into the public realm. The University has a couple of strategically located public sculptures on campus but there’s not much that links those sculptures to anything else either on or off campus. The City Parks and Recreation Department is working on getting the Kent Bicentennial sculpture finished so that it can be displayed publicly but that’s pretty much it. If we’re serious about selling Kent on the great lifestyle amenities that we can provide in the comforts of a small town than we need to fill the public art gap.
There’s been some talk between the City and the University about a public art mile that I think would be a great way to jump start the public art experience. The art mile is nothing more than an idea at this point but I think there’s enough interest on the both sides of the campus borders to give it a good push.
Art has always been bound to some extent to philanthropy but in this case we’re talking as much capitalism as we are philanthropy. Public art plays a significant role in creating that community vibe and lifestyle that people look for in university cities that translates into leisure spending. It’s a cultural aesthetic that doubles as a business driver.
What got me all revved up about public art was a recent article about traffic boxes and retaining walls in the Portland area being transformed into public art canvassas (and we’re not talking graffiti). It’s exciting to see what’s working in other places and thinking about what could work here. Check out the article.
Plus, if you’re feeling creatively inspired the Ohio Arts Council is coming to Kent TONIGHT, NOVEMBER 5th and they want to hear your art ideas — if you go maybe you can slip in a few good words about supporting public art. Here’s the announcement:
Ohio Arts Council to Visit Kent and Cleveland for Listening Tour
by Jaclyn Reynolds
The Ohio Arts Council (OAC) is hitting the road again this fall to find out what Ohioans value about their communities, creativity and the arts. The OACís Listening Tour will travel to seven more communities this fall and winter discovering what creativity means to elected officials, arts professionals and citizens in large and small communities across the state. Northeast Ohio will be the next stop with a visit to Kent November 5 and Cleveland November 6, 2009.
ìWe have seen dramatic changes in the economic environment in the past year. These changes have had a profound impact on the citizens of Ohio and the arts and cultural organizations that serve them,î said OAC Executive Director Julie Henahan. ìWe want to hear what role Ohioís citizens think the arts and creativity should play in their community. What we learn during this tour will help us re-envision the OACs role in serving Ohioans.
A small group of staff from the OAC will lead three meetings in each town to discuss what citizens feel makes their community vital and what their aspirations are for the future. During the morning meeting OAC staff members will have a conversation with elected officials and business and community leaders; the afternoon meeting will be held with members of the arts community and educators; and the evening town hall will bring people from all backgrounds together to discuss the arts and its impact in their community.
The findings from the first half of the Listening Tour last fall helped illuminate the impressive accomplishments, driving aspirations and daily struggles of communities around the state. The meetings also provided an opportunity for Ohioans to share the role they believed the arts, creatvitity and imagination play in their community as they pursue a wide range of economic development strategies to attract and retain news business, especially knowledge-based industries.
Information gathered from this tour will provide the OAC with a better understanding of a broad range of Ohioans needs and assist the agency in developing the 2010-2013 Strategic Plan and the State of the Arts Report II.
Other cities in the 2009-2010 Listening Tour include Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Mansfield and Wapakoneta. Register for the Kent and Cleveland meetings online at www.oac.state.oh.us. Meeting locations, addresses, parking information and discussion questions are available on the Web site.
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally and economically.
OAC Listening Tour – Kent
THURSDAY, November 5, 2009
8:30-10 a.m. For Business and Community Leaders
Helen W. Dix Building
Burbick Community Room
3:30-5 p.m. For Artists, Arts Administrators & Arts Educators
Kent State University Museum
6-7:30 p.m. Town Hall meetingóALL ARE WELCOME!
Kent Free Library