*This is the first in a series of five writings sharing how art can unite community. It is essential to the well-being of our citizens by providing platforms of free expression and hope. These attributes are worth organizing and fighting for public art programs in Richmond and beyond. Art provides a renewed faith in humanity.
On the evening of Tuesday July 19th, Richmond art lovers and residents gathered at City Hall. Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin requested on the meeting’s agenda to direct staff to work with the Richmond Arts and Culture Commission (RACC) and Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC) for an One Percent for Publicly Accessible Art on Private Projects (1% Ordinance). Staying passed 10:00 pm and my bedtime, fighting for the arts was well worth the time.
Armed with I LOVE RICHMOND Arts! stickers, it was an honor to speak for two minutes during public comment:
“My name is Jenny Balisle and I’m a resident of Richmond. Today, I wanted to express support for the One Percent for Publicly Accessible Art on Private Projects (1% Ordinance) and a sincere gratitude for this opportunity. This will support the arts in Richmond and increase the quality of life for the community. I’ve had the pleasure to meet inspiring Richmond artists of all ages from diverse backgrounds. It’s changed and made me a better person. Art broadens our perspective while providing a platform for the underserved and underrepresented. Tonight you’ll be able to hear firsthand how the arts have positively affected the lives of our community. Residents like myself are happy to meet with councilmembers to discuss the benefits of the 1% Ordinance and provide supporting materials at your convenience.
San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland currently have Public Art Ordinances. Imagine what Richmond could offer. The world needs hope and a positive outlet for creative expression right now. We can start locally. Richmond’s motto is The City of Pride & Purpose, let’s get together, let’s do this and let’s get it done! Thanks for your time and consideration!”
Being the last item on the agenda, I was proud of the six souls willing to speak. They had waited for hours to do so despite other commitments. Standing in front of City Council can be daunting and awkward but that didn’t matter. Staying honest and sharing a true perspective was key to sincere success.
This night was only a beginning. Hopeful by the positive turnout on short notice, the Arts have a good chance. The next step will be providing a thoughtful and thorough presentation. We got this. Just you wait and see…