Good question. A little background first: Public art has long been considered a visible, credible way of defining a community, of creating a sense of place, of making a community attractive, and of attracting people to communities -- attracting people to a community contributes to the economic vitality of a community which in turn contributes to community pride. As examples, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Houston, Greensboro, and Portland (among many others) have successful public art processes and plans. For years, York has enjoyed disparate public art efforts -- from our historic statues, to our mural series, and now to the newest local effort -- the recycled art projects on Beaver Street.
Community leaders have come together recently and encouraged the Cultural Alliance to spearhead an effort to define a public art process in hopes of inspiring an integrated public art plan. That effort is being funded by the Women's Giving Circle (WGC) of the York County Community Foundation and is being coordinated by the Public Art Task Force. . . . a group of interested, innovative community members.
The first major step in developing this process was the Art for All public forum. Thanks the WGC, Foundry Plaza, Downtown Inc, and others, Genevieve Ray (a Loeb Fellow herself) invited four public art Harvard Loeb Fellows to York on behalf of the Task Force. These public art gurus formally kicked off our effort to understand how public art has evolved in different communities, how it can be funded, and, how projects evolve, and how processes can shift over time. Rosemary Noon, Kathleen Barrie, Donna Graves, and Ross Miller (Google them -- they are very impressive folks) spoke in the Capitol Theatre on September 30 and then led a series of workshops on October 1. As the Task Force hoped, we got good advice from public art professionals about how to proceed, how best to involve different people and constituents, how to get organized, and how to proceed.
The neighborhood workshops planned for June 24 and 25 are in response to "how to proceed".