The City of Auburn is planning to work with downtown businesses to add more public art to the City.
A proposal to begin this process is currently under review by the city manager and legal team to see if it is in line with Alabama code. Part of this plan includes establishing the Auburn Public Art Commission.
The need for public art in Auburn was cemented in 1998 when the City Council adopted the Auburn 2020 strategic plan. In it, community members said the arts needed to be a focus in the future.
However, the creation of public art in Auburn has been minimal since then, said Auburn city planner Stephanie Canady. While the need was identified years ago, she said it has gotten put on a back burner due to its lack of urgency.
There was simply not enough language in the City's code that mentioned the processes and restrictions for creating and maintaining murals, she said. In cases like this one, in which there are ambiguous legal guidelines, she said the general response is to wait until they can establish a proper process. The City has been looking into other city’s codes to create their own guidelines.
If the proposal is approved and the commission is created, the commission would meet with various artists to plan initial locations for murals and public art.
The commission would then draft proposals of what art was wanted or needed, which would be brought to business owners. Once the commission and the business owners come to an agreement, they would then advertise in order to attract artists. They’d then choose a design from one of the artists.
Once this happens, the art-making can begin.
Canady said the commission will be funded by the City but will also be open to donations.
“Within this proposal, there would be a public art fund established by the City, and how much would go into the fund would be up to our finance department," Canady said.
The City is also open to up to 15% of the mural having some sort of advertisement for businesses.
The City and business owners will work together to create an idea on the front end, and artists would be able to create their own interpretation based on that idea. Then, the commission will decide during its meeting which interpretation is the most appropriate.
Canady said that the City is trying to find a good mix between what businesses and artists want in these murals.
Canady also said that they are looking for people from Auburn for the commission. However, they welcome artists from anywhere to create art downtown.
Many students at Auburn are supportive of the idea of creating more art in the City, like Hudson Arnold, junior in civil engineering, who said downtown Auburn needs more "flavor."
"It would be nice to walk around downtown and see more art," said Matt Dow, senior in aerospace engineering.
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