Chapel Hill Public Art Contextual Plan

from Councilmember Mark Kleinschmidt’s blog:

The Council did something else that is worthy of being called extraordinary last night. The Council took the first steps at creating the nation’s first Public Art plan to be integrated into a community’s comprehensive planning process. Chapel Hill’s Public Arts Commission presented to the Council a Public Art Contextual plan that will make our community the first in the country (at least the first known to our consultant, Gail Goldman) to fully integrate public art programming into our basic town planning. The plan consolidates the many master plans (Park and Rec, Bicycle and Pedistrian, Transportation, land use, etc.) that have been adopted by the Council over the last several years and identifies appropriate intersections of those plans with our public art goals. Integral to the program are the incorporation of triggering devices that will require consideration of public art at almost every turn. As I said last night, the Council has learned many things during our own development project — the redevelopment of our downtown parking lots. Among the things we have learned is the value of early integration of public art in the design of the buildings and the public space. We have long given lip-service to our interest in creating a unique community that recognizes the increased value to our quality of life that artists bring to our community, and now we are about to turn that interest into a well thought-out policy that will allow for that value to be added to one of our most basic town functions — Town planning and development approval.

The plan calls for many things that will certainly spark interesting conversations. It contemplates eventually increasing our percent for art program to a 2 percent for art program, and it proposes that we extend application of public art into the private development sphere. Already, private developers in our community make art a priority in many of their developments, either in the choice of basic design elements or in placement of significant art work within their development. The Conceptual Plan will make our interest in this common practice an official town policy.

I look forward to the conversation our community is embarking on. This truly is one of the most exciting things I have participated in during my Council tenure. I serve because I love Chapel Hill and want to make sure it retains a high quality of life, yet doesn’t settle for doing things the same old way. This new plan holds promise for ensuring both.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen