Annapolis to consider creating arts program

Project would enable city to vie for grants supporting works in public places

March 31, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis city council is considering creating a program to fund art in public places, which would enable it to compete for federal and state matching grants.

In a city historically known as a cultural hub, no money is designated to buy sculptures, paintings or monuments for open spaces. The council has had to allocate money from other funds for pieces such as the Alex Haley monument and paintings in City Hall.

So Alderman Ellen Moyer introduced an ordinance Feb. 14 to establish a fund that would allow the city to acquire artwork and display it in an open city-owned area or on private property if the city absorbs the cost of acquisition and display.

Residents' support

Residents supported the program at the council's public hearing this week, and the mayor and aldermen discussed the ordinance at a work session Wednesday before sending it to the finance committee. It could come up for a vote at the meeting in May.

By establishing a fund for artwork, the city would be able to apply for private and public grants, which often require a match from the recipient municipality. Federal money is available for such acquisitions through the national Millennium Legacy Trail but it must be matched by the city, Moyer said.

A 42-mile trail linking Annapolis to Baltimore-Washington International Airport was named Maryland's millennium trail in October. The trail -- a combination of the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail, the BWI Trail and Colonial Annapolis Maritime Trail -- will get wooden markers designating its status and be listed in a national trails database.

With additional funds, Moyer said, the city could buy artwork for the trail.

"We've never budgeted for artwork," said Moyer, a Ward 8 Democrat. "This ordinance helps us build resources and puts us in a better position to partner."

Fund would be established

The proposed ordinance would establish a fund of about $40,000 to buy, display and maintain artwork. An arts commission, working through the Department of Parks and Recreation, would establish guidelines and handle submissions.

The selections would be presented to the council for final approval.

But Alderman Samuel Gilmer, a Ward 3 Democrat, said at the work session that money designated for artwork should be used for more practical improvements, such as paved sidewalks on Forest Drive.

"Let's talk about what's real and not real," Gilmer said.

Documenting history

Those who spoke at the public hearing Monday said artwork around the city would enhance its image and celebrate its history.

Linnell Bowen, executive director of Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, a nonprofit community arts center, said that if the city provides the seed money, the program should be able to fund itself with private and public grants.

"This isn't a new concept, but it's something we've never had here," Bowen said. "It will give us a chance to document our history through art and bring history alive."

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