Council gives green light to public art

The Bremerton City Council, by the slimmest of margins, gave the go-ahead Wednesday, July 20 for the city’s 1 percent of the arts program and art commission.

The Council voted 5-3 with one abstention (Carol Arends) after a lengthy discussion on the merits and flaws of the proposal initiated by Councilwoman Wendy Priest.

The measure failed a year ago, but was revised to allow the Council final say on which art projects will be funded. This, Priest believed, was the reason it passed Wednesday.

Under the program the 1 percent for the arts would come from capital construction projects excluding roads. An arts commission, appointed by the mayor will select the art. A citizens’ advisory board will assist the commission.

Several members of the art community spoke at the meeting in support of the program.

“Now is the time to add in the most subtle way to the quality of life of Bremerton,” said Bob Dietz, arts supporter.

Other people said public funding for the arts is as necessary as parks or libraries.

Gail Goodrick, a member of the Kitsap County arts commission said their program has gotten almost nothing but rave reviews about its work since its inception in 2001.

The county’s 1 percent for the arts funded the art in the Norm Dicks Government Center.

“We have heard nothing but positive comments about these pieces. It has made this building more human,” Goodrick said.

Not everyone was convinced about the proposal. Councilman Mike Short, who along with Cecil McConnell and Brad Gehring voted against the measure, said it was “like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse,” the way the proposal was written.

“Virtually everyone has a different idea of what art is,” Gehring said. He wanted to see a clarification of who would own the art. He also argued that even though the amount of money that would be earmarked is a small fraction of the overall budget, it was still money the city was spending.

“Every miniscule part of the budget is already spoken for, it adds up,” he said.

Council members Wendy Priest, Mike Shepherd, Will Maupin and Daren Nygren approved the measure.

Councilwoman Dianne Robinson gave her approval provided performing arts be added to the list of genres.

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