Another View: Public art deserves Sacramento funding

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 - 12:00 am

The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission applauds The Bee’s support for public art and funding for the arts in Sacramento (“ Public arts a pretty picture for economy,” Editorials, Feb. 17). Investment in the arts will repay itself many times over.

Public art abounds in Sacramento when compared to other metropolitan areas. In addition to an award-winning collection of more than 650 works of public art commissioned for city and county parks, libraries, community centers and the airport, our communities are alive with works of public art commissioned by Regional Transit and state and federal governments. The arena project will offer an opportunity to expand our collection of public artworks in a major way.

Public/private partnerships with property-based business investment districts – such as the Power Inn Alliance, Del Paso Boulevard Partnership, North Franklin District Business Association and the Greater Broadway Partnership – have already demonstrated the value of public art and have worked with SMAC to produce dozens of temporary works of public art including murals installed on Del Paso and Franklin boulevards.

SMAC received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to produce a temporary art installation titled “Broadway Augmented.” Artists and technicians will work together to create site-specific art that is translated into three-dimensional, computer-generated models viewed in the real world using a smartphone or tablet. The first in the nation, this investment is likely to stimulate a citywide discussion about public art and its ability to engage neighborhoods in planning and reinvestment.

Cultural conversations and the identification of funds to support artists and arts organizations are what make our region a better place to live. For instance, in Denver, where one penny of every $10 of retail sales is directed toward the arts, jobs have been created.

SMAC encourages a serious dialogue on enhanced funding for the arts. Since 2010, funding from the city and county has been reduced by 80 percent, and major programs have been cut. Without the restoration of funding to pre-recession levels, we risk losing cultural organizations that contribute to our region’s quality of life and economic diversity. Policymakers need to understand the value of the arts, their economic impact and the sometimes intangible quality they bring to us all, particularly as our city matures.

John H. Nicolaus is chairman and Cheryl Holben is vice chairwoman of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.

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