Public Art 06

Public art in downtown Ogden on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Ogden City will be changing the way they fund public artwork.

OGDEN — A developing overhaul of Ogden City’s arts funding process was debated Tuesday night.

The Ogden City Council held a public hearing and fact finding session on a proposal from the city administration that would change Ogden’s existing arts ordinance. The sweeping proposal includes several changes, but three significant revisions to the regulation are most at issue.

The first change involves a measure that would allow the mayor to approve up to $30,000 toward “minor art” projects without City Council approval. Such projects would have to be consistent with the city’s Arts Master Plan and be recommended by the Ogden Arts Advisory Committee.

Ogden Arts Coordinator Lorie Buckley said the current ordinance is restrictive when it comes to funding small projects or those that have short timelines.

Although the council would eventually be briefed on projects finished under the model, several council members have expressed concern with the change, namely allowing the mayor unilateral ability to sign off on funding for a particular art project.

“I want to allow for creativity by just getting out of the way,” Council Chair Ben Nadolski said Tuesday. “But I don’t want to be so far out of the way that there’s not fair access to the opportunities.”

A second change to the ordinance would allow grant funding for projects proposed by the mayor, based on unique circumstances related to project timing, participation by multiple community partners or a local project that integrates with a larger project on a regional, state or national scale. The change would speed up the city approval process for time-sensitive projects. The city says grant requirements must still be met and funding would still require noticing and justification requirements required by state law.

The third change allows for city-funded public arts projects to be placed on public property with an easement for public access and maintenance.

A large contingent of Ogden’s arts community attended Tuesday’s hearing, expressing a range of concerns, from funding ephemeral and transitory art to reaching out better to minority artists. The concerns detailed Tuesday will be considered by the city as the ordinance is refined. The council is expected to vote on a final measure later this year.

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