City puts finishing touches on Public Art Master Plan

With Claremont’s rich art history, it was only a matter of time before the city began to envision a Public Art Master Plan with the community in mind and the intention of becoming a destination for art lovers nationwide.
Last Tuesday, the city took another step in realizing their vision, with the city council casting a unanimous vote to adopt the recommendations brought forth by the city’s architectural and planning commissions.
“I feel like a proud papa,” said Councilman Sam Pedroza. “I like that it’s not so black and white, that there’ll be some tweaks. It’s a great way to start!”
In 2013, the city began working with Gail M. Goldman Associates to complete a Public Art Master Plan, a renovation of sorts to the city’s Community Art Program adopted in 1997.  
With the intent of building on Claremont’s artistic legacy, the goals of the master plan were to identify a unified community vision, clarify key themes and values and provide direction for the selection and placement of public art throughout the city of Claremont. In addition, guidance for funding sources, public art review criteria, program staffing and policies and procedures necessary to administer the public art program were key objectives.
Inclusive of all art forms, “Momentum: Public Art Master Plan for the City of Claremont” was completed in July 2014 and recommended a number of policy and administrative changes in an effort to bring the city’s public art program current with national standards and best practices in the field of public art. As part of the process, the city’s Public Art Ordinance, Chapter 16.148 of the Claremont Municipal Code was in need of an update to provide a clearer direction on the administration of the public arts program.
Over the spring and summer of 2014, both the architectural and planning commissions reviewed the master plan and made recommendations to the council.
The following recommendations were unanimously adopted by the city council with minor modifications:
The architectural commission recommended city council approve the creation of a Public Art Committee, approve the newly-defined process for the review of public art as it relates to land development projects and to revise the Public Art Master Plan, which would require the Public Art Fund be devoted solely to the acquisition and maintenance of art, as opposed to administrative costs.
The planning commission recommended the council adopt an ordinance amending the city’s municipal code regarding public art with incorporation of the following changes: All members of the Public Art Committee live or work in the city of Claremont and clarify that the administrative costs could not exceed 25 percent of the ending balance of the Public Art Fund at the end of the previous fiscal year ,and that these funds could not be used for city employee salaries.
After much debate between councilmen Corey Calaycay and Opanyi Nasiali, a compromise was reached. The architectural commission’s recommendations were adopted as written, however, language to the planning commission’s request was modified.
Concerns regarding the exclusion of those living in the unincorporated areas of Claremont—and those just outside city limits—qualifying as candidates for the Public Art Committee, prompted the revision to include those within a quarter mile of city boundaries. In addition, the percentage of the ending balance of the public art allocated for administrative costs was reduced from 25 percent to 20 percent, allowing more funding to be dedicated to the purchase and maintenance of the art acquired by the program.
“I would like to see most of the money spent on acquiring art pieces,” said Mr.  Nasiali. “I want Claremont to be the public art destination of the region.”
Mr. Nasiali wasn’t alone.
“This plan has an elegant and clear structure. It presents clarity and is comparable to other plans around the nation,” said Claremont artist Becky Hamm. “It gives us a real view into the next 50 years. It’s a strong plan.”
The Public Art Master Plan will go before the council for adoption on Tuesday, September 23.
—Angela Bailey


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