Public Arts Commission for Madison in motion

Tia Lynn Ivey News

The Madison Mayor and City Council is in the process of establishing a new commission to oversee the creation and installation of artwork in public spaces throughout the City of Madison. City Councilwoman Chris Hodges has made public art a goal for the City in recent years and is thrilled that the council is supporting her idea.

“My intent in starting this is to add another dimension to our tourist economy … also a strong community celebrates its local artists and arts community,” said Hodges. “We will be the first community of our size to have a public arts commission.”

The council is set to vote to approve the new commission at the next regular meeting on Monday, June 11. Next, the council will set out on the task to find qualified commissioners to serve on the new Public Arts Commission.

“It’s our duty to find people who understand the vision and understand the importance of art,” said Hodges. Initially, the City hoped to add more artwork to public parks, but has now expanded the concept—desiring to bring lively and unique artwork to a variety of public spaces throughout the City of Madison.

“The Public Art Study Committee began with the charge to add art to our parks,” explained Preservation Planner Ken Kocher. “The group quickly realized that all public spaces need to include features that are different, fun, and interesting – public art being an important part of this mix. This lead to the goal of establishing a Public Arts Commission to create and maintain a program of public art in Madison.”

Hodges believes public art will be a tremendous asset to the City’s look, as well as enrich the lives of all who pass through Madison’s public spaces.

“Recent policy discussions about enhancing the city’s gateways sparked an idea.  I imagined how public art could enhance our city’s entrances and its public spaces,” said Hodges.   “We already have an impressive public art inventory—the sculptures in Town Park, the Uncle Remus critters, the Dough Boy—but it lacked organization and was ripe for expansion.  I asked my fellow council members if we could organize a group of art-minded citizens to create a commission to oversee procurement and placement of new pieces.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a tough sale and they were on board with the project.”

Hodges is hoping the City’s renewed focus on the arts will inspire others.

“I believe one of the signs of a great city is its connection to the cultural arts.  If we can build upon what we already have, especially in our public spaces, we can inspire creativity and create a better sense of community,” said Hodges.

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