We routinely get asked what it is we do as public art workers from a variety of individuals, be they students interested in the field, artists curious about the process, or arts interested citizens looking for ways to support the cause.
So, with that in mind, here is a composite view of a typical 'day in the life'.
7:30a: Arrive at office, turn off alarm, clean office bathrooms, empty desk trash cans into bin in the alley out back, inspect any damage from the night before, such as water leaks from the roof (our building is nearly 100 years old, built in 1915), new termite trails in the brick, sweep soot from the conference room table that falls from the gaps in the ceiling. Make coffee, extra strong.
7:45a: Read Commercial Appeal, Daily News, Memphis Business Journal, Memphis Flyer hard copies, mail, online arts journals such as ArtsJournal, Art News, ArtForum, etc., e-newsletters from Americans from the Arts, Live From Memphis, ArtsMemphis, Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce, etc., etc.
8:15a: Check work email and follow up on correspondence, check office voice mails and make notes for returning calls with relevant information.
8:35/45a: Check online presence of organization such as company blog, Facebook page, Twitter, and make relevant project call-to-artists updates and other pertinent news of the organization.
9a: Return any calls that need attention. Dig into paperwork dealing with projects' needs, such as letters to artists or project partners regarding status and progress. Format any organization newsletters, etc.
10a: Greet interns, get updates on their progress on set tasks, and outline any new 'to do' list items.
10:20a: Review project reports with Projects Manager, Rodney, and advise on course of action for any pressing issues, such as an artist's invoice being held up for payment with the City, a material fabricator running late on production, aligning construction timelines, reviewing and revising contracts, etc.
11a: Catch up with Office Administrator, Whitney, on her task list, including tracking payment schedules, RFQ distributions, installing Moveable Collection and Direct Purchase artworks in various buildings around town.
11:30a: Lunch with Dad, Board member, or project partner. Or, eat sack lunch from home in the conference room while reviewing online art and design journals such as Art Review, Metropolis, etc, and taking notes.
12:15p: Continue with any new paperwork, write advocacy briefs for supporters' communication with City Council, check office email again and correspond as warranted.
1p: Talk to City projects' contacts in Parks, Libraries, Engineering, project selection committees members, City Council representatives, or other project related persons regarding any outstanding issues either over the phone from the office, or in person on an out of office visit.
2p: Draft public art policy recommendations for improvement of the Percent for Art program, project RFQ's, etc. Talk to Board members about ideas for improving how the organization works, either over the phone or in person. Review financial issues and business items with Controller, Candy.
3:30p: Meet with prospective project partners, potential new interns, volunteers, artists with issues, answer questions from journalists calling about public art happenings, etc.
4:30p: Research grant opportunities, potential project sponsors, work on endowment campaign case statement, format fee for service 'brochure' structure, revise vision brief for organization's future success.
6p: Check email one last time before leaving the office, check company blog and Facebook page for any comments or questions, chart tomorrow's 'to do list'.
7p: Go home.
[*Note: while this is not 'set in stone' the same way every day, it is pretty typical, Monday-Friday. Weekends, I tend to do some household chores then come into the office around 10a, and stay until about 4p.]
Got questions about how public art works in Memphis or in general?
Send me a comment to the blog, and I'll do my best to respond in a few days.
John Weeden, Executive Director, UrbanArt