Glenwood Springs City Council approves Public Art Master Plan |

Glenwood Springs City Council approves Public Art Master Plan

Would implement policies, commissioning processes and funding

People walk by the marble "Tubing on the Colorado" sculpture on the north end of the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Bridge on Sixth Street.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

The process of implementing public art in Glenwood Springs may be due for an overhaul.

On Oct. 7, the Glenwood Springs City Council unanimously approved the Glenwood Springs Public Art Master Plan, a guide for approaching public arts created by consulting firm Designing Local based on public feedback. The plan institutes protocols for commissioning and decommissioning public art installations, addresses preservation and making recommendations for public art initiatives and funding avenues.

“It creates some new possibilities to expand arts in Glenwood Springs in general,” said Shelley Kaup, City Council member and liaison to the Glenwood Springs Arts and Culture Board. “And it’s on the books, so we have a process to maintain and track and also bring in new pieces of art for the city.”

The plan and its resulting policies and ordinances will formalize and organize the process of art acquisition, maintenance and decommissioning. It lays out options for future sources of funding, but those were not ratified with the passing of the resolution approving the plan.

Because of potential code changes, including the expansion of duties and abilities of the Arts and Culture Board and those funding options, certain parts of the plan will have to pass through the Planning and Zoning Commission. The plan as a whole will hopefully begin implementation within six months, Kaup said.

When it does, the belief is it will help standardize and unify the local art scene.

“I want people to see it as a blueprint more than a mandate for local artists and local art organizations,” Arts and Culture Board member Stefanie Davis said.

The board itself wasn’t established until 2017. After going through the process to acquire and install “Tubing on the Colorado,” which now sits on the north side of the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 70, the board felt that a systematic and focused approach to public art was needed. How requests for proposals were submitted, keeping track of upkeep and even uniformly presenting information about a specific piece and its artist all were considerations when the board enlisted Designing Local for public outreach and plan designing.

Some of the 10 actionable art pieces the firm came up with include collaborative mural painting festivals, creating art pieces along the Rio Grande Trail, focusing on river art and creating a local artist database for streamlined connection on projects.

The plan also expands the powers and duties of the Arts and Culture Board, putting them in the position to advise City Council on proposed projects, commissions and calls for artists.

Local art groups, like the Glenwood Springs Arts Council, hope that an expanded role within the city for arts groups will lead to more cohesion across all types of arts after the Center for the Arts closed in 2017.

“My concern was that we would be left without too much in the way of art,” Arts Council Board Member Laurie Chase said. “Sometimes when one entity does everything, cities tend to be more homogenous in their presentations.”

One proposal for funding comes from saving 1% from private development project budgets for art projects. This would apply only to projects costing $50,000 or more and would cap a single project contribution to art at $100,000. Within that plan, reductions are available if developers install on-site artwork or contribute to the Public Art Acquisition Account. Designing Local also proposed dedicating 1% from City Capital Improvement Projects to public art.

Carbondale enlists a similar strategy, budgeting 1% of all capital improvement projects above $100,000 for public art. Basalt also has a similar fund.

The plan also recommends continued funding through other options like general fund allocations, grants and partnerships.

With structured funding sources, focused installation sourcing and a stronger understanding of what the public is looking for in public art, locals hope for a stronger representation of the arts culture in the public space.

“Reading through the plan, I’m very optimistic about our public art,” Chase said. “It has different types of art, which is very good. They do realize that art has an effect of bringing community together.”

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