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Archive for Tuesday, October 23, 1990

ARTS GROUP RAISES FUNDING CONCERNS

October 23, 1990

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The Lawrence Arts Commission is seeking an early detection system in its quest to gain city funding for pieces of public art.

Members of the arts commission met Monday afternoon in a study session with the Lawrence City Commission and urged changes in the city's "2 percent for art'' policy.

Adopted in 1986, the policy allows the city to set aside up to 2 percent of the cost of certain capital improvement projects undertaken by the city. That money is turned over to the arts commission for the purchase and placement of art work in public places.

Under current practice, the arts commission requests the funds annually during preparation of the city budget. The city develops a list of eligible capital improvements projects and provides the arts commission with a dollar amount for the cost of those projects. The arts commission, in turn, submits a request to the city to budget the percent for arts funds.

Finally, during its approval of the budget, the city commission decides whether it will fund the arts request.

THE POLICY does not bind the commission to funding the request, which became apparent to the arts commission during this past budget process.

The city in 1989 spent $1.75 million on the Riverfront Plaza parking garage, which qualified under the percent for art criteria as an eligible project. Figuring 2 percent of the $1.75 million, the arts commission requested $34,700 in funding during fiscal 1991. Instead, the city agreed to budget only $4,200, an amount equal to what it budgeted the previous year.

Patrick Donahue, who chairs the arts commission, told commissioners Monday that the arts commission's concerns weren't over the Riverfront Plaza request.

"What's happened in the past doesn't concern us; what happens in the future does," he said.

INSTEAD, Donahue said his group needs to know earlier in the process when a capital improvement project qualifies under the policy, and, if it is eligible, whether the commission is amenable to budgeting the funds for arts purchases.

"Our question is how does the arts commission get early warning in time to react and to let you decide whether to budget for the cost of art in a project?" Donahue asked.

Commissioner Bob Schumm said the process should be a two-way street, and urged the arts commission to make its intent for public art purchases known at a similarly early stage.

"To a certain extent, this is a chicken-and-egg relationship. (You ask) am I going to all this work to figure something out and not get the money? But on the other hand, you've got a little bit of salesmanship to do to suggest that a project merits this kind of art for the public."

The two groups agreed to submit proposed changes to City Manager Mike Wildgen for review and recommendations. The city commission gave Wildgen no timetable for completion of his study.

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