Very often when people think of public art, they think of a monumental sculpture or mural placed outside an office or public building. Yet public art can extend its reach and involvement into a community much further. Public art can tell a story and portray the culture and history of a community. Public art can be at its best when conceived and executed as an integral part of a building or development. Under the guidance of an artist a public space can be transformed into an experience of fascination and delight. Further, public art can take the form of musical events, poetry readings, theater and performance which enrich civic culture.
The Urban Art Program provides a mechanism to integrate free and accessible art into the urban fabric of the City. In particular, the Program is motivated by a desire to ameliorate some of the effects new development has on the community. New development often results in intensified use of land where larger structures seem imposing and inaccessible to the public. Urban art can help soften this effect and provide interaction and connection between the public and private domains.
Urban Art Program [PDF]
URBAN ART ORDINANCE
The Urban Art Program was initiated in 1987 and is codified in the City's Municipal Code - Title 19, Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 19.38 "Urban Art Program." Section 19.38.060 of the Ordinance entitled "Procedures, Guidelines, and Requirements" directs the City to establish by resolution the procedures and guidelines for implementing the Urban Art Program. In 2001 the City adopted a revised ordinance that requires developments of most projects greater than $200,000 to place art on-site equal in value to 1% of the project value, or to contribute an equal amount into the City’s Art Fund.
URBAN ART PROGRAM GUIDELINES FOR DEVELOPERS
Developers wishing to meet the requirements of the Urban Art Program by including art on the project site must develop an Urban Art Plan concurrently with the design and design development phases of the building project. The art must be an integral part of the development project and the artist must be included as a member of the project team.
On-site art must be original work, produced by a practicing artist, design and fabricated specifically for the building project site. And, the art must be publicly accessible. The requirements of the Urban Art Program will be deemed satisfied only if art in the value of one percent (1%) of the Project Value has been installed on the project site to the City’s satisfaction.
There is a five step review process for developers who wish to fulfill the urban art ordinance with an on-site art project. The steps include: Introduction to the project; STAGE I - Artist Approval, STAGE II - Review Schematic Plan, STAGE III - Review Final Plan, STAGE IV - Construction and Final Review. Each step is reviewed and approved by the Urban Art Subcommittee. The review process is seen as a collaborative one, with the single aim of developing the best possible art for the project and the community at large.
The Urban Art Subcommittee of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission oversees the implementation of the City's Urban Art Program and generally meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 5:00pm.
Developer Application for the Urban Art Program [online application]
URBAN ART CONSERVATION PROGRAM
In 2007 ACAC created the Urban Art Conservation Program to preserve the City's Urban Art Collection. The City's Urban Art Collection is comprised of city owned and privately owned artworks on private property. This program periodically assesses the condition of public artworks in West Hollywood and notifies property owners with artwork condition information as well as their responsibilities to maintain these artworks under the City's Urban Art Ordinance. The Urban Art Conservation program also serves as an informational resource for property owners who need advice about art conservation.
Since the City's Urban Art Collection is generally located outside, artworks are fabricated to endure the outdoor environment. However, ongoing maintenance is generally required in order to keep the artwork in good condition. The Urban Art Conservation program seeks to bring attention to artwork that has weathered, malfunctioned, been vandalized, or is in some other way not in its best or working condition. Although the City helped initiate this art, it is the responsibility of the property owners or Homeowners Association (HOA) to maintain the urban artwork. In fact, under the Maintenance Requirements for Art Installations (19.38.080), approved urban artworks shall be maintained (by the property owner) for the life of the project. Click here for a list of Owner Responsibilities. If the artwork required by this section is altered, removed, not maintained in good condition, or is not provided as required, the city may initiate administratie remedies in compliance with Section 1.08.010 of the City's Municipal Code.
Maintenance of Public Art Works
The City may impose a fine equal to the original arts requirement as a penalty for non maintenance if administrative remedies do not result in proper maintenance. There are instances when public art installations have been neglected and are in desperate need of repair. The CIty, through its Code Compliance division, notifies HOA's and property owners if the condition of their artwork is in question. This program ensures that previously installed public art maintain its integrity and does not become visual blight.
For questions about the Urban Art Program please contact Rebecca Ehemann, Public Art Coordinator, 323-848-6846 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Americans for the Arts - Why Public Art Matters (2018)
Americans for the Arts Public Art Network - The only professional network dedicated to advancing public art
Public Art Coalition of Southern California - a regional network of public art administrators and consultants
Image above: "Dream Catcher" by Janet Echelman at 8500 Sunset Blvd. (The Jeremy Hotel)