Letters: For and against Kingston public art policy

Art policy a positive step

On behalf of the City of Kingston Arts Commission, I would like to thank the people who offered their thoughts and suggestions during the public comment period for the Art in the Public Way Policy. The Arts Commission will take into consideration all the comments when reviewing the Policy.

By creating a vision—an Art in the Public Way Policy—the city is establishing the arts as a priority for our community, with a commitment to preserving, protecting and promoting public art. The Art in the Public Way policy is not meant to be a punitive measure; it is meant to guide and encourage artists. Many of us, ourselves artists, are working with artists and the community to create a policy on which we can all agree, something that works for all parties — the artists, the community and the city.

While public art is an asset to the community, the development and management of public art can be a complex process. The creation of an Art in the Public Way policy will help identify important considerations when investing in public art including maintenance, installation, and insurance. This campaign to promote and market a public art policy will help gain community and financial support for both the policy and public art, as well as develop a community-wide commitment and support for the arts. It will also raise the cultural importance of public art, so that it becomes a part of the planning process. Kingston has a long history of supporting public art — from the 1995 Block Park Sculpture Exhibition, a precursor to the Sculpture Biennial, to the Artists’ Soap Box Derby, to Hendrik Dijk’s murals in the parks, to the O+ Festival, to Chris Gonyea’s Martian Chronicles and other outdoor movie events, to the 1997 Viking Burial burning on the beach at Kingston Point, to Sinterklaas, and to many other Art in the Public Way exhibitions and events that have been embraced by the city.

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There are literally thousands of cities in our country and around the globe that have public art policies. We want to grow our public art program. We hope to institute a Percent for Art Program in the future just for that purpose. There is a reason that Kingston was named one of the top ten cities for art in the United States by Business Week — the city’s strong support of the arts, which continues to be vitally important to its leadership and the community.

Susan Linn
Chair, City of Kingston Arts Commission

Art policy: A whiff of Orwell?

I’m still struggling to understand how a public-art policy might work. Proponents like Anne Bailey (letters, June 20) claim that it would protect the artwork and guarantee artists’ rights. That’s hard to argue with, but how would the work be protected? And from what? What rights do artists need that they don’t already have? This may be a good thing but lacking specifics it has a whiff of Orwellian doublespeak. By what criteria would a committee judge? For what reasons might a proposed work be rejected? Is there an agenda here that’s not being discussed?

Steve MacDonald
Kingston

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