Tuesday, May 19

Help Public Arts: Give or Volunteer to Your Local Public Arts Projects

Today’s Image
Synchronicity of Color
Sculpture by Margo Sawyer
Discovery Green Park - Houston

I hope, as an artist, you live in a community that supports the arts. In this time of global recession it’s tempting for those who have authority over the budgets for arts funding, public art projects, community giving—call it what you like—to automatically cut expenses in this category.

What a pity when this happens. Of course, people need the necessities of food and health care. However, cutting or shrinking corporate or government spending for the arts, art funding, or art education is a short-sighted view.

If anything, individual givers, companies, and agencies should look at ways to reduce expenses across the board rather than cutting in just one area such as the arts.

Now more than ever, we need the soothing benefits we receive from artistic endeavors. I’m talking about the benefits from public exhibits, museums of all types open to the public, public/private funding of art events, and funding for arts education.

You can help by supporting the artistic activity of your choice through monetary giving, volunteering of your time and expertise, and/or donating artwork as appropriate. For example, you can volunteer to teach art to school-age children or seniors. Or perhaps you can donate your art--many charities hold art auctions to raise money for any number of causes. The artwork is auctioned with the proceeds going to worthy causes, such as the homeless, cancer research, hospitals, and many others.

If you’re not sure where to look, then do some research online using Google or any other search engine.

Try searching these terms followed by the name of your city, state, or country:

-Public arts fund/funding
-Public arts projects
-Public arts network

For example, when I Googled the term “public arts fund Houston ” one of the first search hits was “Houston Municpal Arts Conservation,” which states, “To complement the artistic endeavors of the private sector, the City of Houston's ongoing vision to emphasize public art continues to expand the opportunities for citizens to enjoy art in public spaces... The Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) has been officially formed through the merger of the Cultural Arts Council Houston/Harris County, the Municipal Art Commission, and the Civic Art Committee. The HAA now serves as a unified entity that will fund, advocate, preserve, and promote the arts in the Houston, and Harris county region.” The site provides a lot of information, links to other sites, and many ways to participate in the arts in Houston. Cool!

When I Googled the term “public arts projects Los Angeles” the very first search hit is a newsletter for the Department of Public affairs for the city of LA. It states, “Stay up to date with current public art happenings in Los Angeles, and be on the lookout for new projects in your neighborhood!" The site and newsletter also provide information and other links (e.g., a link to Public Art in LA, which gives a long list of public art venues around the city. Great!

When I Googled just the term “public arts network” with no city, state, or country I got the site for Public Arts Network, which is part of a group called Americans for the Arts. It states, “Americans for the Arts' Public Art Network (PAN) develops professional services for the broad array of individuals and organizations engaged in the expanding field of public art. More than 350 public art programs exist in the United States at the state, local and national level. PAN connects the field by stimulating dialogue, discussing critical issues, developing public art products and services, and providing information through the website and the PAN Listserv.” Like the other two sites, there is also a lot of information and links to other associated sites. Wonderful!

All that information from just three online searches, and I barely scratched the surface of what’s out there. There’s a whole lot more, I’m sure. Be creative and spend some time to research public art opportunities available in your area.

You can help someone and feel good about yourself because you made the effort to participate in public art projects.


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