The Public Art Master Plan, adopted by the City Council on Dec. 13, establishes the first long-term planning document to guide public art in the city’s history.
Its purpose is to provide “a clear vision for the future placement and nature of public art and serves as a guide for the development of future projects and dynamic programs,” according to a staff report.
The plan was developed over the past year through the city’s public engagement process, which included gathering input from residents, advisory bodies and other stakeholders through public meetings, online surveys and community workshops.
Participants said they overwhelmingly supported adding murals to the city’s art collection. Modern, temporary and functional art also were favorably viewed.
The council’s vote officially kicks off the first phase of the plan. Over the next three years, city staffers and volunteers will focus on preserving the city’s current art pieces, such as murals, mosaics, sculptures, and oil and watercolor paintings, while promoting a series of temporary art projects.
In July, the council approved a Parks and Recreation Department proposal to update the city’s Utility Box Art Program and establish guidelines to expand and maintain the number of painted utility boxes on public property throughout the city. In September, the city’s 15-member volunteer art jury accepted 11 new designs to be painted on select boxes throughout San Luis Obispo.
The Public Art Master Plan recommends that the city capitalize on available funding encouraging affordable, temporary art installations such as the utility boxes, construction site murals, or “functional art,” where items such as manhole covers and bicycle racks serve both functional and artistic purposes.
Budget requests to cover the short-term objectives will be submitted as part of the 2017-19 budget planning process and will depend on available monies in the city’s Public Art Fund, which currently has about $422,000. The city contributes between $18,000 and $35,000 to the fund annually. Other funding comes from matching grants, private donations and developers, who must include art in new projects under a private development ordinance.
Long-term art plan objectives call for streamlining the permitting and review process, studying the need for dedicating staff liaisons, creating an online directory of services, and finding ways to increase funding.