Fort Wayne Proposing Public Art Program

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(photo courtesy Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry) (photo courtesy Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry)

Fort Wayne officials are proposing a public art program in the city. Mayor Tom Henry's office says the program, which would be overseen by a 13-member Public Art Commission, would "promote and integrate public art throughout the city."

Henry joined city councilors Glynn Hines and Tom Freistroffer, along with representatives from Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, to announce the proposal Wednesday. A proposed city ordinance calling for the establishment of the program will be introduced to the Fort Wayne City Council next week.

According to the mayor's office, the volunteer commission would be made up of appointments from arts organizations, art schools, the city council and Henry's office. The commission would review and select art to be displayed in public spaces.

"Public art helps create interesting and vibrant spaces, the kinds of places that people want to visit and come back to," Henry said in a news release. "Public art tells our unique story to residents and visitors and communicates that we value quality of life, creativity, culture and diversity."

As part of the ordinance, a Public Art Fund would be established, to be overseen by the commission. Private grants and donations could be made to the fund. Additionally, the ordinance would create a Public Art Giveback program, in which developers who receive Tax Increment Finance incentives from the city would be asked to contribute an amount equal to one percent of the incentive into the Public Art Fund, with a maximum contribution set at $100,000.

The city says the goal of the program is to enhance the visual environment and strengthen the positive reputation, brand and stature of Fort Wayne.

"A formal Public Art Program makes great sense for Fort Wayne as we build on our current momentum as a vibrant, nationally-recognized economy, and we are excited about the tremendous community support we've already received for this proposal," said Arts United President Susan Mendenhall. "The Fort Wayne Public Art Program will be a powerful tool to engage diverse neighborhoods, community members and artists in meaningful and creative placemaking efforts that contribute to our city's growth."

The ordinance will be introduced to the Fort Wayne City Council at its next meeting Tuesday and could receive final approval by the end of the month.

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