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Fort Worth Public Art Plan: In The Process, In The Pipeline

by Jerome Weeks 11 Aug 2014 5:20 PM

Fort Worth passed a nearly $300 million bond package. Three and a half million of that is going for public art projects. The money is in the pipeline, how it’ll be used is still being discussed.


1375801768_1Cliff Garten’s Avenue of Light on Lancaster Avenue. Part of the Fort Worth Public Art collection.

In May, Fort Worth passed a bond package worth nearly $300 million. Three and a half million of that is going for public art projects around the city. KERA’s Jerome Weeks says now the money is in the pipeline, how it’ll be used is being discussed.

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Since 2001, 2 percent of the budget for improvements to streets and parks in Fort Worth bond projects has been devoted to public art works. This year, Fort Worth City Council decided – just this once to keep costs down – only one percent of the transportation bonds would be used for art. That still left a three and a half million dollar budget for public art. And in recent weeks, city council members have taken the initial plan by the Fort Worth Art Commission and re-distributed the money a bit to their different districts.

Gregory Ibanez is chair of the Art Commission. He says, “Speaking as chair, you know I’m pleased they’re wanting more projects in their districts. I think that’s a reflection of the public support. I mean, it’s important to remember these projects are very grass roots.”

Greg IbanezeditThe projects include new artworks for Chisholm Trail Park and Trail Drivers Park as well as dozens for libraries and fire stations. The most unusual items involve lighting and improving three freeway underpasses. The idea is to make them safer and more appealing to pedestrians.There’s also a plan for a landmark artwork, the budget for that was trimmed to $1.4 million.

But Ibanez says that’s a long-term project, with money being built up over several years. “This would be something significant that would be iconic, that would be meaningful to the city as a whole.”

Ibanez says the great example of such a city-defining landmark is Cloud Gate, the giant silvery bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park. He notes, that sculpture cost $23 million.

Gregory Ibanez, Ft. Worth Art Commission chair

The next public discussion of the public art plan is September 8 at the Northwest Branch Library.