Artists and residents check out the art on the walls of City Hall. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Joycelyn Cabrera

The City of Maricopa Arts Committee has adopted a new name and was presented with a new initiative that could take effect as early as 2020.

The committee will join another existing committee to become the Cultural Affairs and Arts Advisory Committee. The changes come at the same time as a new initiative planned by City Manager Rick Horst.

The city manager’s Art Initiative is a seven-point list of goals set for the committee to further integrate themselves with community and city management. The initiative as a whole emphasizes public arts as a focal point for the Maricopa community.

“I feel the arts are critical to the city from a wholistic point of view, and to some degree for selfish reasons,” Horst said. “I think the arts are necessary for the quality of life, and it’s necessary as an economic engine for the city and to set us apart as a community.”

Local artists may get the chance to have their art exhibited in city hall and purchased by the city under the initiative’s quarterly art gallery selection. The initiative calls for a $500 budget, authorized by the city manager, so the committee may select pieces for purchase and permanent display around the city.

The initiative also calls for a “social hall” within the current library, where space would be designed and set aside for art-related community events. The space, according to the initiative, would be used for performances, classes or presentations.

Under this initiative, the committee will also determine whether or not public art meets community guidelines and will determine what these guidelines will be in the future.

Quilting by Crystal Dennis

The City Icon Project sets a goal of the committee identifying an “icon” of the community that represents the city as well as leaves lasting impressions on residents and visitors.

The “icon” would be featured as much as possible throughout the community, be it in parks, outside of plazas, or at the entranceways of subdivisions (not unlike the sculpture of wild horses by the Villages at Rancho El Dorado).

Councilmember Nancy Smith served as a bridge between the Arts Committee and the City Council.

“If we found out what our iconic sculpture is, I would say the city manager would be ready to consider something in the year 2020 and start making it happen. I would say the policies that he wants probably will take a year to incorporate as well. I think a lot of it can be done in the year 2020,” Smith said.

Integrating public art into developmental and municipal projects includes public art planning within developmental planning alongside typical architecture and landscape planning. The initiative has the goal of receiving City Council approval for 1 percent of project costs for any future facility development to go toward funding public art for that development.

“I can probably dig up 17 studies that will tell you that a thriving community has to include its arts. Arts are vital just like the schools are vital,” said Carrie Vargas, chair of the Arts Committee.

The goal of defining public art, expectations of city-supported and endorsed art, and policies surrounding public art integration are discussed in the initiative’s “Public Art Master Plan,” which would be developed by the committee to benefit and support local artists.

The Arts committee will be known under a new name and making efforts for a new initiative. Nathan Ullyot, Community Service director, introduced the committee to new responsibilities that come with the restructure of the city branch.

“Arts is ingrained in culture,” Ullyot said. “When we’re talking about art, we’re talking about music, we’re talking about food and dance and culture and theater and all of the things that go into art, how does that look from culture to culture? Those will be the kinds of things that overlap.”

The initiative has yet to reach City Council. However, the name-change and combined responsibilities will take effect immediately. The new initiative and reconstruction of the committee will not change the committee’s overall goals to support local artists in the community.


Joycelyn Cabrera is a graduate of Maricopa High School and a student at the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism.

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