HOLMBERG: Can Richmond’s new public art czar get us focused?

Posted at 11:29 PM, Aug 24, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. -- To me, Richmond's public art vision needs some big-time focus.

We've haphazardly created a few pieces of public art and argued endlessly about other attempts and things like banners and monuments.

We went from having hardly any murals to seeing an explosion of them, many created by out-of-town artists with no connection to the city. Zero to 100 in a few years.

It seems like the only thing we can agree on is that we disagree.

But art has become a key part of many cities that have used light displays, water gardens, casual statues and other traditional and non-traditional art elements to give themselves a sense of identity and a reason to be visited.

Ellyn Parker, Richmond's new public art coordinator,

Ellyn Parker, Richmond's new public art coordinator,

Now we have a new public art coordinator, Ellyn Parker, a rather unusual and energetic "accidental bureaucrat," as she calls herself, to help shape Richmond's artistic vision.

Yes, I can hear your eyeballs rolling. We've been through consulting and meetings before and came out with little to show for it.

But this woman, an artist herself, has a track record in San Francisco, which is a city with something of an artsy reputation.

She thrives on the unusual, and her reputation is she's no pushover.

Take a minute and get to meet her in my video report.

Sometimes it just takes a couple of people with some serious vision and gumption to make things happen. She seems to fit the bill.

We so need this.

Here's the city's press release about the decision to find Richmond's artistic vision and character.

It really up to you!

Richmond, VA - Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the City’s Department of Planning and Development Review and the Public Art Commission will kick off the process to establish Richmond’s first ever Public Art Master Plan.

She's part of Richmond’s Public Art Master Plan, which will  will be developed with the input of the community, key stakeholders and other arts groups so that the plan will reflect Richmond’s vision for public art. The City will embark on a series of public meetings and focus groups as well as providing methods for the public to give input and feedback on the types of public art projects funded by the City. Currently all public art projects receive funding through a 1% allocation for art, earmarked from the City’s Capital Budget, of all new or renovation construction projects having budgets over $250,000. It is envisioned that the Master Plan will also identify ways to fund the preservation and long term maintenance of the current public art sites in Richmond.

“We want this roadmap to help ensure that our public art program is reflective of Richmond’s diverse communities,” said Mayor Jones. “This effort will help to refine policies and procedures that ensure equal opportunities for local and regional artists, as well as strengthen the collaborations between neighborhood groups, local arts agencies and City departments.”

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