Saturday, November 21, 2015

Programs for "publicly accessible" art

Do you feel "enriched"?

The City has two Percent for Art programs, in which a percentage of capital project costs are allocated to art. The San Francisco Arts Commission administers the 2 Percent for Art program, which requires that the City’s publicly funded capital projects spend two percent of the project costs on artwork. The Planning Department administers the 1 Percent for Art program, which requires some private developers, mostly in the downtown area, to acquire or commission publicly accessible art equal to one percent of the development’s hard construction costs. The intent of the 1 Percent for Art program was to enrich large building projects with publicly accessible works of art in the downtown area.

There's a whole lot of "enriching" going on, mostly of so-called artists. For the money numbers, see pages 3, 4 and 6 of the Review of Public Arts Programs by the Budget and Legislative Analyst's Office, the subject of a recent SF Examiner story (Development art fee not living up to potential).

Turns out that few downtown developers are contributing to the Public Art Trust Fund. Instead, they can commission art---or "art"---on their own to "enrich" their projects:

For some, it’s a missed opportunity to have desperately needed revenue to counter the displacement of artists and preserve The City’s creative spirit. The revenues could bolster art organizations and assist artists being squeezed by rising real estate costs. If the trend continues, the fund won’t see any of the $19.1 million expected in art fee revenues from 94 developments underway or in the approval process, based on the report by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose. Instead, developers will meet the mandate by paying for on-site art, such as placing sculptures in lobbies, according to the report...[Supervisor]Kim questioned whether a developer installing public art was really a public benefit, since it arguably benefits the development and the community has no say on how those fees are spent, unlike other development fees like transit and open space.

In short, Supervisor Kim and others want a say in how all that money is spent. (It's of course not about the quality of the art that's supposedly "enriching" us, the public.) 

They're going to have to write new legislation to grab some of the money, since there's no reason now for private developers to contribute both to the trust fund and pay for their "art."

The San Francisco Arts Commission's first artist in residence created the piece below:

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