Monday, April 19, 2010

UrbanArt Advocacy

Voice Your Support
Every year starting around this time we like to remind our local civic leaders how much UrbanArt does for the enhancement of the public realm in Memphis by asking our neighbors to voice their support for the role of public art plays in making our city a better place to live.

Here is the information you can use to express your support of public art in Memphis in the year to come!

Please take a moment to send a brief note of support to your City Council representative, using the contact information and district map featured in the article box below.

Public Art Projects Mean Jobs for Local People
When projects are produced by local artists, funds allocated to these projects stay local, providing jobs and further strengthens the local economy.

Public artworks produced by local artists help keep the local economy solvent, and further enables Memphis to matriculate as a creative center of world renown. Typically, artists retain 10-15% of project funds for design fees and labor with the remainder going to local businesses supplying materials, design and fabrication services, and to the hiring of production assistants. This means Memphis artists are able to continue to pay their mortgages, meet their city and county tax obligations, and feed and clothe their families while contributing to the greater 'livability' of our city that their art fosters. Although the City's Percent for Art program only requires 60% of its projects be produced by local artists in any 5 year period, UrbanArt has surpassed this mark by coordinating local artists to create 84% of its public art projects, and counting!

UrbanArt functions as a third party project consulting and management provider for a variety of groups including municipal, private development, and community grassroots partners. The organization is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. As a 501c3 non-profit, all proceeds garnered from UrbanArt's grant awarded programs, fee for service projects, and private donations, are folded into the operating and program needs of the organization. There are no shareholders, nor do Board members receive any compensation for their participation.

Public art enhances the city's image as a creative center of world renown and improves the quality of life of our public realm. It serves to further economic development by making more attractive spaces in which residents and visitors prefer to do business, raise families, and enjoy their leisure time activities. Public art is an internationally accepted means of alleviating blight and urban decay by reducing graffiti and other vandalism to public assets. It heightens awareness of our city's rich cultural heritage, as well as builds community engagement between cultures, ethnicities, and generations, making our city a stronger community in the process.

While our city is legendary for its innate creativity that has transformed the world through music, the built environment does not currently reflect the spirit of the city on the surface. When tourists arrive they now find a city beleaguered by overgrown vacant lots and empty, dilapidated buildings. By cultivating a public domain that is visually appealing, Memphis becomes known as a uniquely attractive city to which visitors wish to return, promoting our city as a travel destination internationally.

Talent Recruitment and Retention
Currently, Memphis is attempting to position itself as a world leader in the film, music, biotech and transportation logistics industries. These fields are recruiting highly skilled workers from across the country and around the world. 'Quality of life' is a key factor for such top talent when deciding where to re-locate and raise families, as well as for businesses seeking to start new projects. Public artworks are widely acknowledged as low-cost, high-impact, contributions to increasing this 'quality of life' factor within a city that not only attracts new residents and businesses, but that influences local youth upon graduation of high school and college to decide to seek employment and build careers in their hometown.

Community Building and Civic Pride

By highlighting our city's unique creative impulse and its rich cultural heritage, by alleviating blighted landscapes, and inspiring new visions of what our city might become in the future, public art produces connections to a place that would not occur otherwise.

When people feel the kind of connection and pride of ownership public art produces, they tend to want to take care of their community because it matters to them more than something in which they've had neither say nor participation. They want to make sure that the unique public art landmarks that reflect the character, values, hopes, and dreams of that community are respected.

How It Works: Advocating for Public Art in Memphis

Please take a moment to send a short email or make a brief phone call with the message:

"Thank you for all your work toward making Memphis a better place to live. My name is _____, and I live at ______, and I wanted to share with you my support for the 'Percent for Art' program administered by the UrbanArt Commission."

Then, feel free to reference the information cited in the article box above. If you have experience working as a part of a selection committee, or as an artist producing a public art project, share your personal story.


Bill Morrison: 901-576-6786 /
Assistants: Danielle Spears & Dynisha Clark  
William C. Boyd: 901-576-6786 /
Assistants: Juaness Keplinger
Chairman, Harold B. Collins: 901-576-6786 /
Assistants: Lisa Geater & Ann Turner

Wanda Halbert: 901-576-6786 /
Assistants: Danielle Spears & Dynisha Clark
Jim Strickland: 901-576-6786 /
Assistants: Juaness Keplinger
Edmund Ford, Jr.: 901-576-6786 /
Assistants: Sophia Wordlaw & Sandy Rutherford
Barbara Swearengen Ware: 901-576-6785 /
Assistants: Danielle Spears & Dynisha Clark
Position 1: Joe Brown: 901-274-4724 /
Assistants: Sophia Wordlaw & Sandy Rutherford

Position 2: Janis Fullilove: 901-576-6786 /
Assistants: Sophia Wordlaw & Sandy Rutherford

Position 3: Chairman Myron Lowery: 901-521-4300 /
Assistants: Maria Fuhrman & Pam Cain

Position 1: Kemp Conrad: 901-576-6786 /
Assistants: Maria Fuhrman & Pam Cain

Position 2: Shea Flinn: 901-576-6786 /
Assistants: Maria Fuhrmann & Pam Cain

Position 3: Reid Hedgepeth: 901-576-6786 /
Assistants: Juaness Keplinger

Pam Cain: 576-6793 /
Dynisha Clark: 576-6775 /  
Pat Lewis: 576-6799 /
Maria Fuhrmann: 576-6784 /
Ann Turner: 576-6787 /
Lisa Geater: 576-6783 /
Juaness Keplinger: 576-6797 /  
Sandy Rutherford: 576-6795 /  
Danielle Spears: 576-6785 /  
Sophia Wordlaw: 576-6798 /

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