Lancaster’s Office of Public Art is intimately involved in some of the city’s most prominent upcoming projects, public art manager Joanna Davis told City Council this week.
The redevelopment of Lancaster Square across from Binns Park is “a key point in our 10 year plan,” Davis said in her annual report to council.
The city plans to overhaul the square in conjunction with the renovations taking place around it, which include the Holiday Inn Lancaster, 101NQ and the garage and library complex planned on the square’s east side.
The square has a lot of opportunities for public art, she said. The city’s public art advisory board is also overseeing the process of renaming it, and has put out a request for proposals, with responses due May 22. The board will review the applications and make recommendations to council and Mayor Danene Sorace.
Watch: Lancaster's Public Art Community Engagement
Meanwhile, Davis and the board have been working on the renovation of Culliton Park in Lancaster’s southwest.
Artist Matthew Geller is collaborating with local landscape architecture firm RGS Associates on the design; Davis said the SoWe community group and other neighbors have been enlisted “to ensure it is a community-driven project.”
Another community group, West Lancaster Jewels, is helping to plan the city’s first “artful intersection,” a temporary mural planned for the road surface at the intersection of First and Crystal streets.
Local artist Justin Jones will lead “a community paint-in” at a block party the Jewels group is hosting this summer, Davis said.
The city is hoping it’s the first of many artful intersections and other community-led art projects. To encourage them, it’s working on creating a “tool kit” to guide applicants and a standard process for securing permits.
“We believe that art is essential to a healthy community,” Davis said.
The Office of Public Art was established in 2010 under then-Mayor Rick Gray, who remains a staunch arts advocate. On Wednesday, he will be among the featured speakers at a press conference in Harrisburg in support of increased state arts funding.
The group Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania is seeking $300,000 for a pilot program to encourage municipalities to incorporate art in their community and economic development strategies and $2 million “for cultural and historical support.”
Annual grant funding through the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts has remained flat at $9.6 million for five years, the group said.