FORT WORTH — The city’s public art fund took a $2.26 million hit in the 2014 bond program when the City Council decided to spend more money on transportation than art.Because of that cut from $5.84 million to $3.58 million, the Fort Worth Public Art Commission is proposing something a little different in their initial plan for the 2014 bond program — setting aside $1.66 million from the streets portion of the bond to go toward an “iconic” piece of public art that would represent all of Fort Worth, said Gregory S. Ibañez, chair of the art commission. “The thought was, because the road money was cut down to 1 percent, rather than do a series of, shall we say, not really meaningful projects, it might be better to pool it,” said Ibañez.A 2001 city ordinance requires that 2 percent of the total amount of a bond package go to public art, and since then, the 2004 and 2008 voter-approved bond programs and the 2007 critical capital needs program all dedicated the full 2 percent to public art.But City Council decided to cut that amount for the 2014 bond program in February, dedicating only 1 percent of the $219.74 planned for transportation to public art. For all other propositions, such as parks and fire stations, the full 2 percent still goes to public art.The proposed iconic project wouldn’t be done for several years, because it will need to be pooled with private money, which will need to be raised, said Ibañez. For Ibañez, cities providing art is just “what major cities and cultural capitals like Fort Worth have to do.” “Obviously not at the expense of basic services, but there is more to a city than basic services,” Ibañez said. “And making the city a place that people want to visit, and more importantly want to move to — public art can play a role in that.” Examples of “iconic” art include Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Millennium Park and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Cloud Gate, nicknamed The Bean because of its shape, cost $23 million, but it was privately funded. Community inputThe draft public art plan approved by the commission on July 14 is a starting off point, said Martha Peters, vice president for public art, with the community and council expected to give input. The City Council is scheduled to be briefed on the plan Tuesday. The commission will also take the plan to the public on August 11 and September 8, with times and locations still to be decided, to get public input. The council is scheduled to adopt a final plan in October. The draft plan shows that the remainder of the art money from the streets and infrastructure proposition — $510,000 — will be divided into smaller projects. Each of the two urban villages in the bond program would get $80,000 for art and the transit oriented development would get $350,000. The parks portion of public art funding is the next largest chunk, at $616,400. Of that, $150,000 is planned for the new Northwest Community Park, perhaps on the planned trail overlooking Walnut Lake; $240,000 could go to Heritage Park; the new Como Community Center would get $106,000 and the expansions of the Eugene McCray and Handley-Meadowbrook Community Centers would both get $60,200. For the library proposition, the eastside library would get $43,000 and the far north library, which is also set to include municipal kiosks, will get $183,000 for artwork. Both of the fire stations planned in the bond program, one in the southwest and the other in the far north, will get $90,050 each for art. The expansion of the Municipal Court Building will get $30,000 from the 2014 bond for a public art piece, potentially in the lobby, said Peters. The field operations facility for the far north, which will also serve as a drop off center, is budgeted for $95,700. Peters said the goal would be to make that piece a “way-finding” landmark to help people to find the drop off center. The municipal vehicle maintenance facility, planned for the Holly Water Treatment Plant, is getting $200,000. Peters said the goal is to have that artwork on the perimeter of the plant, so that passersby can see it from the busy North Forest Park Boulevard. Finally, the new animal care and control center planned for the far north will get $46,100.Big impact“What is exciting about public art is it has an impact on the city that is going to be there for a long time,” said Peters. The oldest piece in the city’s collection was created in the 1880s. “Works of public art have a long life span. It is a big responsibility, but it is also a real joy to know that something you are doing is going to outlast all of us. It is going to make an impact on the city and hopefully be enjoyed by future generations,” Peters said.
Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984 Twitter: @catyhirst