Public art slated for new public safety policy

T-R FILE PHOTO - The “Drills” public art piece was dedicated March 30, 2017 at Marshalltown High School. Members of the Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, Marshall County Arts and Culture Alliance, Marshalltown Public Art Committee, district faculty and artist Gail Folwell, center, attended.

“Echo” In West End Park.

“Drills” at Marshalltown High School.

Those are two of the more prominent pieces of public art the Marshalltown Public Art Committee (MPAC) and other supporters have successfully installed.

Their next opportunity is to place public art in the new, joint Marshalltown Police Department/Fire Department facility under construction in the 900 block of South Second Street, where occupancy is expected in June.

Councilors discussed the matter at Monday’s council meeting, voting 6-1 to begin the process of selecting an artist with assistance from MPAC and others.

Earlier in the meeting, Marshall County Arts and Cultural Alliance Director Amber Danielson recommended they spend $55,000 budgeted from taxpayer funds earmarked for the facility.

Danielson recited a host of reasons why the council should spend that money.

“Art strengthens our economy, drives tourism and sparks creativity,” Danielson said. “It connects people of all ages and ethnicities.”

The subject of public art at the new facility is not new.

At three council meetings last year, the council discussed spending $55,000 on art, according to a memo by City Administrator Jessica Kinser to council.

She said the money for the project is available.

“Now that we know where we are at (with MPD/FD budget currently at $1.3 million available), we are requesting $50,000 for a budget to advertise in a call to artists,” Kinser’s memo said. “The remaining $5,000 would be utilized for stipends to the potential artists as well as site preparation items, which could vary depending upon an installation inside or outside. Like with Echo and Drills, we could utilize MPAC along with no more than three councilors and staff from police and fire. A selection process could take up to four months, which means nothing would be in place when the building opens. Authorizing this budget now would allow the process to start.”

Kinser said the city has a history of supports art and cultural initiatives.