% 2

*This is the second 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.

Have a heart.
Have a heart.

Guilty as charged!  With a proud bias that art does good, I believe that the City of Richmond must join its neighbors in implementing a small percentage of developmental projects through art.  This isn’t a strange, foreign, or new concept for the San Francisco Bay Area and developers.  In fact, many cities have similar plans that continue to attract business successfully.

The time is now.


San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito, San Jose, San Mateo, Walnut Creek, Alameda, Emeryville, Palo Alto, Brisbane, Santa Rosa, Napa, Petaluma, and Dublin have % for Art Programs.  These are fifteen local examples of different and diverse cities with various socioeconomic factors and industries.

Each city unique just like Richmond.


% for Art Programs have been part of “normal” business for quite some time.  In 1969, San Francisco established the City Arts Enrichment Ordinance mandating 2% from all Capital Improvement projects to go to public art.  Today, the tradition continues with the PA00: Public Art Ordinance with 2% of gross estimated construction cost for art enrichment.  In 1989, The Public Art Ordinance in Oakland was established allocating 1.5% of capital improvement costs to public art.  BTW, the city of Emeryville has had a percent for art ordinance since 1990 and Walnut Creek since 2000!

Common Richmond it’s 2016, we can do this!

Unfortunately, 2008 experienced the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression.  This hasn’t deterred or scared local cities from % for Art Programs.  San Jose adopted a Public Art Program allocating 2% to public art in 2008!  In 2010, Napa’s Public Art Ordinance requires 1% for art.  Palo Alto’s ordinance has developers contribute to public art with 1% in 2014.  Recently in June of 2016, Berkeley joined a long list of cities by passing the One-Percent for Public Art on Private Projects.

Susan O'Malley, San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, California, USA.
Susan O’Malley, San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, California, USA.

The trend for % for Art Programs is upwards.  Naysayers declare it will deter business and developers will go to other cities.  Well that’s just not the case.  Take a look at the numbers.  A majority of cities in the San Francisco Bay Area already have these programs.  Excuses weaken community and we deserve better.  Ask our neighbors, art promotes business and enhances environments.  Richmond can and must live up to its potential.

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