Fort Worth

Fort Worth looking at changing the process for choosing public art

More changes could be in store for the city’s public art program.

In addition to potential cuts in funding for the 2014 bond package, officials with the art program may see changes in the types of projects and the process by which they are approved — and more oversight from the City Council.

This month, the city staff recommended changing the ordinance that would fund public art in the proposed $292 million bond election from 2 percent to roughly 1.2 percent in a formula that includes diverting funds from transportation bond money.

In a presentation in Tuesday’s pre-council meeting, Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa recommended that 1 percent of the public art funds from the street and transportation proposition, or about $2.1 million, be used for a citywide iconic piece of art to represent Fort Worth.

Several council members expressed concern about the equity of a citywide project. Councilmen Joel Burns and Sal Espino were concerned that a citywide project would require taking funds away from smaller community projects.

“Part of the beauty of the way we have the current policy is that you had public art money, even from the streets, in those individual council districts disbursed throughout the city so that everyone received a fair share,” Espino said at the meeting.

Burns said the idea should at least be opened up to a few iconic projects to spread them around the city.

“If we had left our proposed funding at the 2 percent, we would have had money for both. I know the die has been cast for this bond package, and I’m not asking to rehash that, but we have done that to ourselves. We could have had both,” Burns said of the neighborhood projects and one iconic piece.

However, Mayor Betsy Price and Councilman W.B. “Zim” Zimmerman voiced support for the idea, with Price saying an iconic work could draw more tourism and economic development and Zimmerman saying such a piece could have a greater impact on the city for all residents.

Zimmerman said that public art, like the capital improvements in the bond package, should be planned for what benefits the city best as a whole, instead of focusing on how much money each individual district will receive.