Since March of 2015, I’ve been a member of the Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC) in Richmond, California. Part of a healthy art practice and being an engaged community member is to be active not passive. Positive change may be slow and steady but worth the time and effort. There is no pay, awards, or instant gratification but a sense of purpose for the common good. The PAAC has offered this opportunity and more.
Arriving at my first PAAC meeting was daunting and overwhelming. The history, language, and structure was strange and new. From the City of Richmond website: “The Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC) reviews and oversees public art project designs on City-commissioned pieces, and makes recommendations concerning their visual appeal, structural integrity, and safety to the RACC. They recommend public art policies and procedures, maintenance of existing artwork, review all proposed gifts or loans of artwork to the City, and serve as liaisons for the Public Art Program to Richmond’s neighborhoods.”
Overtime, what was foreign and complex started to make sense. The members were welcoming, encouraging, and understanding while sharing their vast expertise without any hesitation. The uneasiness quickly started to fade and the PAAC started to feel like home.
2017 is the 20th anniversary of Richmond’s public art program! During this time, residents and officials have worked diligently on implementing a One-Percent for Public Art on Private Projects Program ordinance. On July 18th, the City Council adopted the ordinance joining the local communities of Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, El Cerrito, San Jose, San Mateo, Alameda, Walnut Creek, Emeryville, Palo Alto, Brisbane, Napa, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and Dublin.
The ordinance requires commercial developments ($500,000+) along with residential developments (10+ units) to provide a fund to be used for on-site public and art projects. The allocation can be incorporated into existing construction costs such as light features, fences, pavers, fencing, entrances, and many other options. These additions attract more buyers, renters, and investors while building lasting relationships with the community. Cities locally and nationally have found tremendous growth and higher production rates with similar programs. Take a look at our neighbors!
Want to be part of implementing a new artistic legacy and history for future generations?
The PAAC is currently accepting new volunteers to be a part of this exciting new chapter in Richmond. Meetings are the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm at City Hall (450 Civic Center Plaza). Please consider joining the PAAC to educate, advocate, and support the arts in Richmond. It’s a meaningful and rewarding use of time.
Contact Richmond Arts and Culture Manager Michele Seville today at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 620-6952.
Hope to see you soon!