During the development process for the Arts Commission’s first Annual Work Plan, which is based on the recommendations from the recently adopted Arts Master Plan (Plan), the Commission identified the recommendation to implement a public art planning and selection process as their highest priority. This result is in part due to the public art process being a crucial factor in the City Council approving the funding for the development of the Master Plan and the goal of the Commission to relaunch the public art program for the community. The recommendation is as follows:
- Plan Recommendation 1.1 – The City should implement a public art planning and selection process that utilizes peer review and community input to ensure that public art pieces meet the goals of providing enjoyable and attractive public spaces that reflect the character of the community.
PUBLIC ART PHASES
The public art planning and selection process has seven phases, from the initial project identifications to the installation and promotion of the final art work. The seven phases are as follows:
- Project Identification
- Call for Artists Development
- Finalists Selection
- Artist / Concept Selection
- Appeal Period
- Art Fabrication / Installation
- Art Work Promotion
The initial five phases are intended to be addressed annually as part of the annual budget cycle, with the last two phases having various different timelines based on the scope and scale of the project. Generally, the first five phases would occur as follows each year:
- Spring/Summer – Phase 1, Project Identification
- Fall/Winter – Phase 2, Call for Artists Development
- Winter/Spring – Phase 3, Finalists Selection
- Spring – Phase 4, Artist / Concept Selection
- Summer – Phase 5, Appeal Period
The ideal timing for each step of these phases is identified in the description below.
PROJECT IDENTIFICATION (Phase 1)
The first step of this phase is to identify the public art projects and allocate funding. Currently, projects are identified by City Management, who usually determine a location and a budget during the development of the annual budget. This identification process will change with the adoption of the proposed Percent-for-Art Ordinance. Once the projects have been identified, then the recently formed Arts Commission Public Art Ad Hoc Committee, in conjunction with staff and the on-call artist, will determine the themes, approaches, and final locations for the projects. This step will be completed in May and June of each year.
The Arts Commission Public Art Ad Hoc Committee will share their recommendations about the identified projects with the full Arts Commission for approval. The Arts Commission will include the identified projects with recommendations for themes, approaches, and final locations in their Annual Work Plan. This step will be completed by July of each year.
The final step for the first phase is to have City Council approve the Annual Work Plan. It is recommended that an Annual Study Session be held with the City Council and Arts Commission to discuss the Commission’s Annual Work Plan, including the public art projects for the coming year. The Arts Commission would then present their Work Plan for City Council approval at a regular Council meeting. This step would take place in September and October of each year.
CALL FOR ARTISTS DEVELOPMENT (Phase 2)
The first step for phase two will be to form Artist Selection Committees for each public art project identified in the Arts Commission Work Plan. The Arts Commission Chair will create these Ad Hoc Committees, which will be comprised of the following members:
- Arts Commissioner
- Professional Public Artist or Art Expert
- Professional Arts Administrator or Art Expert
- Local Professional Artist
- Community Member
The Artist Selection Committees will be formed in November of each year. Once they are appointed, the committees will meet with staff and the on call artist to refine the themes, approaches, locations, and budget allocations of the projects. This information will then be utilized to develop the Call for Artists, which is essentially a Request for Qualifications. The on-call artist will review each Call for Artists and offer his/her insight, which will then be shared with the Artist Selection Committee for final review. The Call for Artists will then be shared with the Arts Commission for approval. This step will take from December to February to complete.
FINALIST SELECTION (Phase 3)
Once the Arts Commission has approved the Call for Artists, each one will be released through Café, which is a website that is the national standard for connecting public artists with opportunities. The Call for Artists will also be promoted locally and regionally through various email lists and media outlets. This step will take place from December to February, concurrent with the approval of the Call for Artists, and generally the Calls are open for 30 days.
The members of the Artist Selection Committees then individually rate the artists based on past work, letters of interest, and resumes, on the Café website. Café compiles the individual votes of the committee members and the top three to five artists are identified. The reason for this range is that it is recommended that larger projects have one or two additional artists develop their concepts, allowing for more options in the next steps. Once the finalists have been identified, staff will contact the artists and contract with them to develop their concepts. This step will be completed one week after the close of the Call for Artists, so will be from January to March of each year.
ARTIST/CONCEPT SELECTION (Phase 4)
The finalists are given approximately one month to develop their concepts for the project. The finalists will then present their concepts to the Artist Selection Committee. Ideally these presentations will be made in person, but if this is not feasible, then it can be done by Skype or on a conference call.
The Artist Selection Committee chooses the artist/concept they would like to recommend to the Arts Commission. If the Artist Selection Committee does not feel that any of the finalists meet the requirements of the Call for Artists, than the process begins again, starting at the second phase, with a review of the Call for Artists to make sure that the document was clear in defining the expectations of the project.
The Artist Selection Committee presents their recommended artist/concept to the Arts Commission for approval. If the Arts Commission does not approve the recommended artist/concept, than the process begins again at Phase 2, with a review of the Call for Artists and the opportunity to change the members of the Artist Selection Committee for that project.
The final step of this phase is for a memo to be drafted to the City Council to inform them of the approved artist/concept for each project. Each project will be presented in a separate memo. The presentations by the artists of their concepts, the selection of the artists/concepts by the Artist Selection Committees, and the approval of those artists/concepts by the Arts Commission will take place from March to June of each year.
APPEAL PERIOD (Phase 5)
A thirty day appeal period will begin once the Arts Commission approves an artist/concept. The appeal can be made by a City Council member or a member of the community. If a project is appealed by a City Council member, no fee will be charged. If a public art project is appealed by a community member there will be a fee charged of $750. This fee is to cover the staff time required to prepare the appeal.
If a project is appealed by a City Council member or the community the project will be added to the next available City Council meeting agenda. The agenda report will include all of the background information required for the Council to make their determination. The Arts Commission Chair, or designee, will present to the Council all of the details on the selection process and reasons for why the artist/concept was selected. If there is no appeal within the 30 day appeal period, then staff will execute the contract with the artist, and the fabrication of the art piece will commence. This phase will occur after the approval of the project by the Arts Commission, which means appeals could occur as early as March and as late as July of each year.
ART FABRICATION/INSTALLATION (Phase 6)
When the artist for each project is selected and a contract has been executed, then the artist will be paid two-thirds of the budgeted amount for the art work. This is done to assist the artist in purchasing the materials needed to create the art work. If the artist does not deliver their final art work, action will be taken to recoup the costs that had been paid.
The artist has a pre-determined and agreed upon amount of time to complete the fabrication of the art work. This can vary greatly due to the nature of the piece, the size and scale needed, and the location the art work will be installed in. Several public art projects are part of Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), which will require flexibility and communication between the public art team and the CIP team. During the fabrication stage, the artist will keep staff up to date on their progress, and staff will give updates to the Artist Selection Committee and the Arts Commission.
The artist will work with staff to install their completed art work once it has been completed. Often the installation step involves input from staff of various divisions within the City of Santa Clarita, including Building and Safety, Capital Improvement Projects, Traffic, Parks, and Special Districts. Once the art work is installed, the artist will receive their final payment. This phase can take from a month to much longer depending on the project. Ideally, most of the projects will be completed within four to six months, but the timeline for this phase has to remain flexible.
ART WORK PROMOTION (Phase 7)
When an installation date has been determined between the artist and staff, the Communications Division will be contacted to promote the art work and dedication ceremony through the following methods:
- Press Releases
- Media Invitations to Cover the Ceremony
- Social Media
- Short Video Pieces
The Dedication Ceremony should be held as soon after the installation of the piece as possible, and should be held on the weekend to increase attendance. Invitations for the ceremony will go to City leadership, the Artist Selection Committee, the artist, and the public.
Finally, the art work will be added to various websites for information and promotional purposes. These sites will include the City of Santa Clarita site, SantaClaritaArts.com, which is a new site that highlights arts and culture in Santa Clarita, and the Public Art Archive, which is the national registry for public art projects. Much like the phase above, the timing of this phase will vary greatly depending on the timeline of the public art project.
The Arts Commission is pleased to present the public art program to the community, and with the approval of this planning and selection process, any new projects will be able to go through a clear and consistent process. It is crucial to emphasis that at various stages in the process, at the Artists Selection Committee level, the Arts Commission level, or the City Council level, if appealed, any artist/concept can be rejected and the process can begin again. This is important to remember as the goal of the public art program is to expose the community to high quality art that will engage them and hopefully encourage appreciation for the role art can play in place-making and community identity.