Public art again faces questions

12/26/2013 5:45 PM

12/26/2013 5:45 PM

With plans for a $292 million bond election in less than five months, Fort Worth City Council members are again raising concerns about how the expected $5.84 million public art element of the package will be carried out.

“I’m not sure we are getting the proper input upfront [for art projects],” says Mayor Betsy Price.

She wants to look at “best practices” from other cities and have a conversation with experts starting in January or February, Star-Telegram City Hall reporter Caty Hirst wrote in a story published Thursday.

Councilman Jungus Jordan, long a skeptic in the council’s public art discussions, wants a review of the project development process before the May election.

Mary Peters, vice president of the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, the administrative agent for the public art program, says a review by an outside agency is in order.

She said she favors that route because “you are bringing in expertise that isn’t married to anything; they can be completely neutral.”

The council has spent a lot of time reviewing and refining the bond plan. It’s important that every sore spot be healed well before the election.

If there is to be further review of the public art process, it should begin right away.

The bond election would be May 10. Early voting would start April 28, almost exactly four months from today.

There should be no last-minute changes in the bond plan or the process by which the art projects will be carried out. Neither should council questions linger until spring.

The current process was adopted as part of the Public Art Master Plan in 2003. To develop that plan, consultants began work in November, 2002, presented recommendations to the city the following summer and revised those recommendations on Sept. 19, 2003.

That’s a 10-month process. It shouldn’t take that long to review it and adopt any desired revisions, but neither could that be accomplished in a matter of a couple of weeks.

Nor can the city expect its voters to go into the voting booth with a review promised but not yet completed.

Voter confidence is crucial. Four months out, public art seems too iffy.

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