Saturday, June 1, 2013

Indianapolis Councilor Proposes Taxpayers Shell Out More Money for Bad Public Art

Indianapolis At-Large Councilor John Barth is at it again.  Barth, of course, was the leading force behind
the Midtown TIF which was quickly turned on its head by city and developers as they, not surprisingly, sought to have the property taxes diverted to fund development in wealthy Broad Ripple instead of the poorer areas of the TIF district.

This time Barth pens a letter to the Indianapolis Star suggesting that taxpayers foot the bill for more public art in Indianapolis:
Councilor John Barth
There were a lot of ways Indianapolis showed what kind of city it is when thousands of people came to enjoy Super Bowl XLVI, from handwritten welcome notes from grade school students placed in every hotel room to the blue-and-white scarves knit for volunteers who helped keep things running smoothly. But there was something else more permanent and pleasing for all of us — and future visitors — to enjoy. Super Bowl XLVI included “46 for XLVI,” an impressive citywide mural program...

The success of “46 for XLVI” shows that our city is ready to embrace public art as a way to celebrate who we are. That is why I am introducing a proposal to the City-County Council called “percent for art.” The aim of the proposal is to identify a dedicated funding source (1 percent of the city’s investment in a capital project) that can be tapped to continue what the mural project began — supporting creative ways to tell our story. Every Indianapolis neighborhood has a story to tell and a history to celebrate. Imagine if, over time, neighborhoods used the program to express their own unique identity — and we all took the time to seek out the new neighborhood murals, statues, sculptures and more. We could spend time in neighborhoods where we might never have gone, and meet people we might never have met.

This program will not only be good for neighborhoods, it makes economic sense, too. We already know that the arts in Indianapolis have an annual economic impact of $384 million, employ 13,310 residents, and return $42 million each year in the form of taxes. This program will only help those numbers grow, especially as the program rolls out and, across years, begins to attract tourists.

Granted the murals are interesting and often well done.  But most of the other public art in this city is atrocious.   We have the "Dancing Ann" video display on Mass Avenue which I frankly thought was a walk sign when I first saw it.  Then I remember the display kept for a long time at the City-County Building that consisted of a large canvas with attached rubber strips (apparently cut from tires) that looked like hair.  In the middle of the rubber hair canvas there was a hole.  Frankly it looked like a female body part...except for the hole being square.

Councilor Barth has proven during his time in office that he does not care one bit about the taxpayers' money.  While I was not not a fan of SB 621, the one good thing about the bill is that we don't have to deal with a second term for John Barth.


Had Enough Indy? said...

I could only stare at my paper in disbelief this morning. What planet is Barth living on? Certainly not this one, where the City is looking to raise taxes by eliminating the homestead credit, cutting back on basic services and considering decreasing the number of police officers and firefighters (either by attrition, induced retirement, or layoffs).

We spend hundreds of millions a year on capital projects. And, we already give a million a year to the arts council.

There is no 'found money'. Its all taxpayer money diverted from basic services.

Flogger said...

I have always been a fan of street art in the form of tagging or Graffiti. I do not approve of vandalism.

If Barth wants Public Art, provide some paint and let talented Graffiti artists have a go. They would probably do it for free.

The new airport is probably as good an example of the sterile environment we have here in Indianapolis concerning art.

Pete Boggs said...

If you know folks in the arts, artists, gallery owners, etc; public or NEA art is the punchline to several jokes...

Then again, why wouldn't a "government" feigning to define healthcare think it could also define art, economic development...

Paul K. Ogden said...

Of course, we have the arts people trying to put public art on the canal towpath. it's ridiculous. Leave nature alone.

Cato said...

Indy is truly being run by idiots.

Have you seen the disaster they've made of South St.? Have you seen the so-called "Cultural Trail" they've used to destroy Indy streets and to make Indy's downtown a driving hell that's best avoided?

They've effectively destroyed downtown and permanently consigned it to the status of what would be merely a suburb in other cities.

These are fools in charge, and their plans and schemes are puerile.

Cato said...

Why does "public art" so often look half-assed, as if the nearby fifth-grade class made it?

Where are these "public artists" who are sculpting the next David or Venus DeMilo?

"Artists" are merely the next group in line with hat in hand attempting to have taxpayers purchase collectively what they won't purchase individually.

It's a make-work project for the useless.

Jon E. Easter said...

I think this falls into the "Don't we have bigger fish to fry" department.