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Solid Waste Management Facility

Policy Development

  • In 1985 the Phoenix Arts Commission Arts was set up by the City of Phoenix in an ordinance containing details of its constitution, objectives, powers and duties, and staffing. Its powers included: 'Propose and administer a one percent for the arts ordinance'. The Percent for Art Ordinance was passed in December 1986, and the program fully implemented at the beginning of the following fiscal year, July 1987.

  • Deborah Whitehurst was appointed the first Executive Director of Phoenix Arts Commission in 1986. Deborah worked with the state arts agency from the mid 70s and had given much thought, and had extensive conversations with city officials and urban designers, about how cultural facilities, public amenities and public art could be used to build more liveable cities. At the time the Phoenix Arts Commission was set up, the City was embarking upon massive development both of its public and cultural buildings and of its infrastructure - water, electricity, drainage, road building and so on.

  • Gretchen Freeman joined the Phoenix Arts Commission as the first public art program manager in late 1987.

  • In 1988 Deborah Whitehurst commissioned William Morrish and Catherine Brown (now deceased), then at the University of Southern California and now with the University of Minnesota's Design Center for American Urban Landscape, and artist Grover Mouton, to come up with a master plan for public art in the city. Working with the infrastructure-related public art project sites already identified in Deborah Whitehurst's initial 5 year plan for the implementation of public art, they developed an urban design based methodology for viewing the city as a set of systems, and for locating future public art sites on a systems-based analysis of the City of Phoenix Capital Improvement Program.

  • These recommendations provided an articulation of Deborah Whitehurst's belief in the arts as a tool of urban planning and she successfully achieved a budget of $4.7m for public art for one year, and an average public art budget of $1.4 - $2m annually from 1987 to 1993.

  • The City ordinance ties expenditure of Percent for Art budgets to projects within the Capital Improvement Program category from which the money was raised, although it does allow the funds to be 'pooled' and spent on the most appropriate capital project being handled that year within that category.

  • Public art schemes for capital projects by departments responsible for culture, public buildings, libraries, parks etc were easy to identify.

  • With 'pure' infrastructure projects, however, placing an art project 'in full public view on City owned property' becomes more problematic - a freeway overpass, a solid waste management facility, a road footbridge for example. Here Deborah looked at how artists could be involved in developing the urban aesthetic and how their ability to problem solve could be used.

  • The Commission began engaging artists to work on an equal footing with engineers and architects on City infrastructure projects, making a contribution which was integrated into the design and delivery of the whole project.

  • At the same time, public art projects have become a means of engaging citizens with their locality, in line with the City Percent for Art ordinance. This in turn contributes to a City Council initiative to encourage individual and collective responsibility for the local, national and international environment.

  • Selection panels for all commissions must include a community representative and a department representative as voting members, in line with the City Ordinance.

  • The Ordinance also requires that a sum is annually allocated from the Percent for Art Funds to an art preservation trust fund for maintenance of the public art works purchased through Percent for Art.

© Copyright Joanna Morland 2000