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Public art funding strategy under review at Lexington City Hall

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Stu Johnson
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Public art funding strategy under review at Lexington City Hall

One avenue of funding public art in Lexington is being debated. What’s known as a ‘percent for art’ program came under review last week at City Hall. It was initiated in 2018. Council Member Fred Brown brought the matter before the General Government and Social Services Committee.

“Public art is usually something that the government is supplementary and private funding comes in and you get out there and get donations from the private group, which we’ve done in the city,” said Brown.

Lexington Director of Arts and Cultural Affairs Heather Lyons told members the percent for art resolution requires one percent of all borrowing for capital improvement projects be set aside. It would be used for the purchase, commissioning, installation, and maintenance of public art. She said such programs are major drawing cards in cities like Chattanooga, Charlotte, and Ashville.

Lyons cited the downtown ‘Breaking the Bronze Ceiling’ sculpture as an example of such funding support.

“If you gut it, the funding, you won’t be able to do things like that. You will be doing very small and not permanent works,” said Lyons.

In addition to Brown, Council Members Amanda Mays Bledsoe and Richard Moloney expressed concern about how the percent for art program is structured. No action was taken by the General Government Committee.

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 30 years.
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