In Brief

Minneapolis Mayor Moves to Cut Public Art Funding

Minneapolis (photo byBobak Ha'Eri/Wikimedia Commons)
Minneapolis (photo by Bobak Ha’Eri/Wikimedia Commons)

Minneapolis won’t be getting any new public art next year if the city’s mayor gets her way. Mayor Betsy Hodges’s recommended municipal budget for 2015 does not earmark any funds for the creation of new public artworks. If her budget is approved, it would be the first time in more than three decades that Minneapolis has not set aside money for public art, MinnPost reports. Not only would this prevent the commissioning of any new works, but it would make it impossible for the city to do maintenance work on existing public art that has been vandalized or damaged.

“The amount we can discuss … To zero it out, to flatline it, that basically says we turn our back to it and don’t value it,” Minneapolis City Council member Kevin Reich told the Star Tribune. “I strongly value it.”

In the past the city has allocated between one and two percent of its net debt bond to public art. For 2014, that came out to $480,000; last year the sum, which fluctuates based on the amount of debt the city issues in a given year, was $605,000.

If Hodges’s budget is approved — the City Council will vote on a budget for 2015 on December 10 — it won’t bring Minneapolis’s public art projects to a stand-still, though. Pieces commissioned in previous years that are still underway — $890,000 worth — will continue apace. The mayor’s office has said that the decision to withhold new public art funds for 2015 was spurred by this backlog of projects from previous years, and that it intends to restore its funding to typical levels in 2016.

“It’s basically just a matter of bringing their annual year-over-year authorization closer to their ability to actually get projects out the door,” the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, Ben Hecker, told the Star Tribune.

Unlike neighboring St. Paul, which has a Percent for Art program, the city of Minneapolis does not have a mandate to fund public art every year. The city’s Capital Long-Range Improvements Committee (CLIC) has recommended $545,000 in funding for public art in 2015.

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