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Metro Newsroom

Mayor Unveils Public Art Plan for Louisville

Friday February 19, 2010

Master plan is result of year-long study by Creative Time

After a year of studies and public meetings, Mayor Jerry Abramson today unveiled a plan that will fund and develop new artwork in public spaces across Louisville, from downtown to the suburbs.

See Louisville's
Public Art online

Visit the new
LouisvillePublic Art
Initiative website

and read the master

The Louisville Public Art Master Plan makes numerous recommendations, including the creation of a fund that will make grants to non-profits who commission artists to develop art for public spaces.

“Louisville is a city of arts — and this master plan lays the foundation to build upon that reputation,” Abramson said today as he released the 70-page plan before a group of artists and art patrons at Metro Hall. “The recommendations in this report won’t happen overnight, but they will create a lasting legacy for generations to come.”

Louisville Metro Government hired Creative Time, a non-profit public arts group in New York, to develop the plan. The $50,000 study recommends the creation of a Commission on Public Art (COPA) that would oversee the city’s art collection, manage a new granting system for public art and advise future city leaders on the creation and development of new art.

The commission would route already existing money from commercial developers through an innovative new approach.

Under the current land development code, commercial developers who have projects that exceed 100,000 square feet must set aside a percentage of their construction budget for public amenities, such as fountains, tables and chairs, playgrounds, landscaping or trails.

Under the new plan, developers would have the option to instead contribute those dollars to a new public space art fund. These funds could be used for projects throughout the city, providing support to non-profit arts and neighborhood groups through a granting process managed by COPA.

“Developers will recognize that this new model makes good business sense,” Abramson said. “Their money will support the arts and, in turn, they don’t have to pay for the long-term maintenance of benches or a fountain.”

Chuck Kavanaugh, president of the Homebuilders Association of Louisville, applauded the idea, saying it gives developers flexibility and helps them save long-term on maintenance costs while adding to the vitality of the entire city.

”Louisville is unlike any other city, and this plan reflects the unique and wonderful spirit of its people and visual arts community,” said Meredith Johnson, of Creative Time, “The document lays out both a long-term vision for public art and practical steps to achieve that vision as the city and the arts evolve in the years to come.

Johnson traveled to Louisville many times over the course of the year-long study, and is the principal figure at Creative Time responsible for the plan.

The public art master plan was overseen by the Mayor’s Committee on Public Art, chaired by Louisville artist Christ Radtke and Louisville businesswoman Anna Tatman and overseen by Mary Lou Northern, the mayor’s senior advisor for parks, cultural affairs and faith-based initiatives.

Visit the new Louisville Public Art Initiative website and read the master plan: