Norman Public Arts Board on the verge of becoming a committee | New


Norman City Council will soon vote on whether or not the Public Arts Board will become a committee of the Norman Arts Council, a change the organization’s leadership says would allow for more art, more fundraising opportunities , diverse community involvement and meeting flexibility.

The Norman Public Arts Board was established in 2007 by the Norman Arts Council and the City of Norman to create more engaging public spaces through arts projects. The council exists to build the perception of Norman as a town with high quality public art.

Erinn Gavaghan, executive director of the Norman Arts Council, proposed on Tuesday that the Public Arts Board become solely a committee of the Norman Arts Council, forming the Norman Public Arts Committee.

City Attorney Kathryn Walker said the committee change will require ordinance changes and could deal with a contract amendment, but that process is expected to be completed in 30 days, at which time city council can vote. at a future meeting.

The council is funded primarily by voluntary donations citizens make to their utility bills, Gavaghan said.

The Town of Norman contracted with the arts council in 2016 to administer the Norman Forward “1% for the Art” program, which receives 1% of the Norman Forward Project budgets. The arts council administers the selection process for the use of these funds.

At the peak of the program about 12 years ago, it was generating about $20,000 a year for public art. Today, this fund generates about $8,000 a year.

The committee would be considered a 501©3, meaning it would be eligible for public and private grants to support public art.

Gavaghan said public art is growing rapidly in large part because of the Norman Forward program.

“It extends beyond the boundaries of what we typically consider public property or public spaces, so to stay relevant in public art, we believe Norman actually needs to pay more attention to this program. “said Gavaghan.

Gavaghan noted five reasons for wanting the Norman Public Arts Board to become the Norman Public Arts Committee: it defines the legal status of public arts in Norman, allows for greater community involvement, allows the committee to work with more agility , merges missions while expanding the current definition of public art and provides full-time expertise in public art and nonprofit administration fundraising and marketing.

If the council became a committee, their members would not be bound by open meeting laws, which Gavaghan says creates flexibility.

“They could meet when needed, and even at the last minute they could even use other working methods like zoom and online whiteboard apps,” Gavaghan said. “These are really important for a group of people from diverse backgrounds who are actively involved in the implementation of the project, as this committee would be.”

The committee could expand the definition of public art to include projects that the public can see, but which could exist on private property. Gavaghan said they are often asked to partner with or advise private companies on large-scale artworks. She said they are currently working with the Norman Economic Development Coalition to create a mural on the new Commerce Building on Main Street.

Gavaghan said the Norman Arts Council places a high priority on diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts. The arts council has formed an equity and justice committee that guides them on DEI initiatives and access to art to underserved communities.

If the committee is formed, Gavaghan said he would streamline fundraising, as it would be integrated with all council fundraising efforts.

Gavaghan said the NAC has already committed funding for strategic planning, which it will begin immediately if and when the board becomes a committee.

Ward 1 Councilor Brandi Studley said the town needed more public awareness of the arts, and a committee would enable the Norman Arts Council to make this happen.

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