Three members of the Formation Committee for a Duluth Public Arts Commission presented an update to the Duluth City Council at its January meeting.
The proposed DPAC, composed of arts professionals, would plan and facilitate public art in the city.
It would be separate from the existing Gateway Art Project Committee, which was formed and specifically charged with selecting an artist and commissioning a sculpture in the center of the Duluth Roundabout.
The Roundabout forms a major gateway to the city at the intersection of West Lawrenceville Street, McClure Bridge Road, and Irvindale Road. The Hospital Connector, a fourth roadway, will connect to the Roundabout in the near future.
Roundabout art selection is being based on designs submitted by artists. The GAP Committee is expected to announce the finalists soon.
Ivy Doss introduced the DPAC presentation at the council’s Jan. 14 meeting. “This brief presentation highlights the thoughts behind the need for a Duluth Public Arts Commission – how it fits perfectly into the strategy behind Duluth’s success, and why now is the time to form this commission,” Doss said.
The DPAC Formation Committee is composed of about eight members.
Rob Marbury said a public arts program can preserve the heritage of the city, enhance its character and identity, contribute to economic development and tourism, add beauty and interest to public places, and increase opportunities to participate in the arts through performance, acquisition and installation.
“Done well, public art adds to community,” Marbury said. “If it is not managed through a committee, with a set of guidelines, it can lead to misunderstandings.”
Allen Wiltshire, another member of the formation committee, told the council “the purpose of a Duluth Public Arts Commission is to provide a framework for planning and developing public art to enhance Duluth.” The framework involves a committee of qualified arts professionals and encompasses placement of art, funding, arts education, economic impact, and public engagement, he said.
He added that public art would increase downtown foot traffic and business patronage.
Wiltshire said DPAC Formation Committee representatives plan to attend the Duluth City Council’s work session Jan. 28 to answer questions from council members.