WHAT CIVIL EMERGENCY?
The Anchorage “1% for Arts” regulations don’t cover nearly enough public works projects, according to Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who will submit a proposed ordinance on Tuesday, Oct. 8 to expand the types of projects that must dedicate 1 percent of construction costs to arts.
The ordinance will be considered by the Anchorage Assembly at its regularly scheduled meeting.
A letter from the Municipal Arts Advisory Commission to the Assembly supports the additional projects to include roads, bridges, tunnels, parks, trails, playgrounds, and sidewalks.
Current regulations include 1 percent being subtracted from construction needs for arts during building, remodeling, or renovation of a municipal building, school, or other facility.
“Without designating 1% of the project for arts, the outcome is often public facilities that do not incorporate elements of our rich cultural heritage or unique artistic elements,” the group wrote to Berkowitz. “Large scale infrastructure projects lacking in art are more difficult to integrate into neighborhoods, and deprive the community opportunities for beautification that improve property values, reduce crime, and increase quality of life. Moreover, art in public spaces provide educational opportunities for young people to interact and learn about different art forms while engaging in day-to-day activities.”
Large-scale projects are also more likely to cost more than $1 million, which is the threshold for the 1 percent for arts requirement. A $5 million trail rehabilitation project would need to have a $50,000 taken from construction and dedicated to artistic expression.
The revised ordinance also proposes adding two more types of art to be covered by the 1 percent for arts program: Digital/video art that may incorporate laser, lighting, or sound; and ephemeral art — that which is not permanent, the tis biodegradable or that is performance art.
Adding roads, trails, tunnels, and bridges to the 1 percent program will, in fact, increase the cost of projects by that amount.
Of the 1 percent to be dedicated to art, a fraction of that would be shaved off for preservation of the city’s public art. So that the 1 percent for art would become a .09 percent for actual art, and the rest would be set aside. A city arts committee would be established, appointed by the mayor.
There is no fiscal note attached to the proposed changes.
Anchorage voters passed $4 million in parks improvement bonds during the last municipal election in April. If the ordinance passes, some of those projects will be subject to the new 1% definitions.
Berkowitz this summer declared Anchorage in a civil emergency due to perceived and projected problems that might develop around the city’s notorious drug-addicted population of transients. The civil emergency ended in September, he announced to the Assembly.
Now that it is behind Berkowitz, it’s onward to expanding public funding for arts.