The Utah Legislature will be in session during January and March of 2002, with a break for the Olympics. The following articles are designed to inform the public about issues that will be addressed during the 2002 Legislative session which affect the visual arts community. The opinions expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Artists of Utah or 15 BYTES.
WILL WE HAVE ART IN OUR PUBLIC BUILDINGS?
Doug Snow's painting "Capitol Reef" was placed in the Scott Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City as part of the Public Art Program. Snow's work appears in many public buildings including the University of Utah's Union Building and the downtown Salt Lake Library. This 19' x 15' work created a stir, however, when it was placed in the state supreme court. The work has been called derisively both the hamburger and the clamshell.
Paintings, murals, and sculpture adorn many of our public spaces and buildings due to a bill passed by the 1985 Utah Legislature. The 1% for Art bill, passed over fifteen years ago, allocates public funds for art to be incorporated into new and/or renovated state public buildings. The Utah Arts Council was given the authority to provide leadership in this endeavor, along with the State’s Division of Facilities Construction and Management.
A year ago, the Legislature’s Capital Facilities and Administration Services Committee, which has the right to oversee the art selection process for each building, made an unprecedented decision. It considered eliminating all funding for building projects in the year 2001.
In response to this threat to the Public Art Program, Bonnie H. Stephens, Director of the Utah Arts Council, and Jim Glenn, director of the Public Art Program, appeared before the committee in early February 2001. They made a presentation urging the Legislature to retain the 1% funding for art in public buildings. However, when the committee presented its budget proposals to the Executive Appropriations Committee on February 21, their proposal contained the following language: It is the intent of the Legislature that the state funds appropriated for capital projects not include funding for art. This effectively eliminated all funding for art in public buildings for the year 2001. During the 2002 Legislative session, the Legislature will once again consider the issue of funding for art in public buildings.