Sunday, April 15, 2018

Reform City of Tucson Policy 7: #LetUsPaint

United States Department of Arts and Culture Tucson Outpost: Official Communique

Attention:  Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona, Public Arts Division
  CC:   City of Tucson Mayor and Council
  City of Tucson City Manager
  City of Tucson Risk Management

Submitted: Monday April 16, 2018

Reform City of Tucson Policy 7: Removing the Barriers to Community Art Process


The Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona, formally Tucson Pima Arts Council is made up of several divisions. This letter and comments relate to the Public Art Division, specifically the Public Art and Design Review Board process and outcomes. Public Arts in Tucson are funded through a variety of public and private sources. The guidelines for placing works of art are described in Policy 7. Additional documents such as Pima County Administrative Procedure 3-16, 54-5 and COT Resolution 22536 are pertinent to our concerns.

From 1996 - 2018 the Tucson Arts Brigade Inc., a coalition of citizen artists,  and neighborhood leaders, conducted a series of public art “demonstrations projects”  employing Community Cultural Development (CCD) strategies and information gathering techniques. These works are process based (story circles, surveys, after school programs, clean ups, paint days etc. that result in a work of public art), and a final product is difficult to display at the start of a project, as mandated by city policies, and reflected in the current PCAD and AFSA Public Art process.

The burden placed upon individual artists, neighborhoods, and organizations has been highly unreasonable, caused duress, and does not allow for the creation of community art in public places due to the baroque nature of policy 7. This flaw has hampered first amendment rights and curtailed our freedom of expression. To this ends we seek support in establishing policy changes that allow for a broader pool of artists, a conversation about political art, a neighborhood informed approval process and implementation of bold new strategies specifically designed to address the multiple needs of our diverse community.

Concern 1: TPAC/AFSA claimed at the 4/11/18 PCAD meeting that TAB didn’t get permissions, or follow a process, when painting the Bronx Wash murals in 2009.

This is a false claim: The neighborhood did receive permission to paint this mural. The NWNA then hired TAB to do so, TAB supplied insurance and a Tucson Fire Department Truck even came during paint day with Tucson Parks and Recreation summer youth to help paint and let the kids play in the fire hoses. The mural got national attention. The understanding is that projects under $5000. are exempt from Policy 7 For projects with budgets under $5000, a single artist or vendor can be chosen. Furthermore a risk review was conducted and insurance certificate issued. Armando Vargas and Mary Ellen Wooten (TPAC Public Arts Manager) had email communications about this project throughout the permission process.

Mary Ellen Wooten's did reach out to the City of Tucson (COT) for approval too.  Pro-Neighborhoods, grantor, had a role in 2009 in the planning and implementation process for the new murals in the Bronx Wash to be reviewed and approved.  To apply Policy Directive 7 post-facto is unacceptable.  To apply the revised '7' to what had been accomplished prior to the revision being vetted and promulgated properly will imply every person and, or, organization (public or private) was in error.  This will include TPAC.

As for the $5000 floor limit.  It was applied in that TPAC had a minimal role in this public art process, and being the NW neighborhood is in the COT and the Bronx Wash is under the jurisdiction of the COT, COT policy will apply. Our current process is to have the Neighborhood Mural Committee approve all works of art. We document and maintain our works with no additional costs to the COT.

Concern 2: TPAC/AFSA Belittle, Devalue, Shun neighborhood concerns, input, history, culture, ideas, needs, protocol and suggestions. For decades neighborhoods have had poorly constructed works of art, irrelevant to their stories and voices imposed upon them. The “peer review” panel process for projects above $50,000 needs to be closely scrutinized, evaluated and modernized.

a. Prescribed remedy: We propose that 1% for art program associated with all capital improvement construction projects language and objectives be amended, and resources be available to be re-directed to after school community arts, civic engagement and Community Cultural Development (CCD) Initiatives to address the specific needs of our unique desert community.

b. Prescribed remedy: Alter the PCAD review process to allow for natural artistic development, extended creative process and building/seeding of “cultural clusters”. (1) Neighborhood committees and PCAD members reviews initial design, provides input during community design review process (2) risk review at project site, (3) council office, city manager consent (4) PCAD reviews final art and (5) accepts into city inventory, with comment’s and revisions as needed. 

Concern 3: TPAC/AFSA since it’s inception has maintained a “Pre Qualified Artist Roster” for Art Projects with Budget’s below $50,000. including 1 percent for public art projects, and CIP’s. Public information is unavailable or difficult to discover. We have been told it opens “every 7 years”and “every 2 years”. Artists who are on the list report being invited by phone call.

a. Prescribed remedy: The Artist Roster should be widely promoted, public and open to all members of our community to apply for in a reasonable, fair and democratic manner.

b. Prescribed remedy: Since the TPAC/AFSA have mandated that all public dollars and property is subject to Directive 7, most artists would be cut off from applying to potential future mural projects, the application process needs to be clarified and simplified to reflect all talent in our community. This need for clarity extends to school, community centers ,parks and recreation centers and other public places and right of ways.

Concern 4: The term "Donation" is the term used for any artwork that someone wishes to be added/donated to the cities Public Art collection. The only potential funding for public art from the Arts Foundation could be for specific projects via our "New Works" and "Start" grants.

a. Prescribed remedy: The review process needs to be restructured to allow for creativity, changes and alterations to the original design. Neighborhood residents should have first rights in terms of subject and content. Many neighborhoods must generate their own funds to create and preserve works of art. Many of these projects are under $5,000 but are still subjected to Policy Directive 7. In attempting to “donate” a work of art (such as a mural) neighborhoods projects subjected to the Directive 7 process, resulting in failure to complete projects. The bar is way to high and is resulting in duress.

b. Prescribed Remedy: Establish baseline professional criteria needed to be represented on the PCAD board.

c. Prescribed Remedy: Establish baseline economic data for “donated” works of community produced art. Funding should be made available using CCD methodologies of meeting multiple-agency needs, 1% for art, CIP and other sources to fill this gap in funding.

Concern 5: The "Risk Review" is a review process mandated by the City of Tucson for all public artworks to be located on city property. The cities risk manager examines all aspects of the proposed piece through criteria associated with safety and liability. Depending on the nature of the artwork, additional criteria may be of concern to the Risk Review process such as engineering or environmental standards.

Prescribed remedy: Risk Reviews can be conducted by the risk review offices, an the PCAD and Policy Directive 7 needs to be amended to allow neighborhoods to circumvent the TPAC/AFSA process if they elect to do so. Risk Review meetings should go back to being on site to avoid confusion.

Concern 6: Years ago the City of Tucson maintained a $1 Bed-Tax on Hotels for arts and entertainment. The economic incentive is clear. Today this money was transferred to Visit Tucson, to bring more people to fill more beds. This economic incentive is also clear.

a. Prescribed remedy: As discussed informally with a sampling of hotel owners, we propose to have all parties sit down and develop a Bed Tax that serves Arts, Entertainment and Visit Tucson. This could include an increase in bed-taxes

b. Prescribed remedy: “Arts District” tax incentives for buyers of Works of Fine Art during strategic times of the year.


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