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Culturally Minded Broward County Cities
Encourage Public Art Through Local Ordinances
By Julie Levin

Rock-et Man
Artist Craig Berube-Gray posing with his sculpture "Rock-et Man" during installation.

Whether it provides a peek into a community's history, boosts community pride, inspires new dialogue, or brings new color and vibrancy to the urban design, public art is rapidly becoming a bigger part of the Broward County landscape.

Countywide, residents have enjoyed the benefits of the Broward Cultural Division's Public Art and Design program since 1976 and have watched it grow into an internationally recognized, world class program with more than 240 installations at 90 locations, including libraries, parks, courthouses, airports, ports and along roadways.

In recent years, many Broward County cities have also taken steps to bring a new cultural dynamic to their municipalities by creating their own public art ordinances. While some are well-established, others are just getting off the ground. Here's a look at the progress of some our local public art ordinances.

 

Coral Springs

While in the midst of its downtown development in 2003, the City of Coral Springs saw a need to infuse public art into its landscape. Since then, a total of 15 pieces have been added to the public collection, which city leaders say helps to create a unique sense of place and pride.

"To have art out on the public rights-of-way makes people think about a community that's just more than bricks and mortar, it has also public art and cultural features," said Jim Hickey, assistant director of development services with Coral Springs.

Hickey says the goal of their art is to reflect the city's heritage, diversity and character. One of the best known pieces is HD, a bronze Humpty Dumpty by artist Kimber Fiebiger that sits near City Hall.

All financing comes from a fee charged to developers who have projects greater than 12,500 square feet. Developers may contribute to the Public Art Fund or purchase an artwork to display on their property. Two developments have chosen to select their own art. Guardian Towers Moon, Sun, Fire by Gustavo Vejarano was installed by H&M Development at the Whispering Woods Center on Wiles Road and Tropical Toss by Kim Radochia was installed by Symphony Builders at Village Green Apartments on Sample Road.

Anyone who has also been to the Coral Springs Museum of Art has also seen the results of its Artist-in-Residence program, which creates public art and is usually on display on the grounds of the museum. There is also a Peace Garden, which was created through the work of international artists and serves as a setting for many city events.

Pompano Beach

Adopted just last year, the City of Pompano Beach's first public art ordinance has several projects in the works. The city's new Public Art Committee recently partnered with a civic group, Pompano Proud, to bring new art to McNab Park. The four-panel exhibit by local artist Donna Whiteside Sallee was expected to be in place by Labor Day weekend. Other projects underway include a sculpture of the Barefoot Mailman on the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge.

City leaders say the public art program will help to beautify and strengthen pride in Pompano Beach. The new ordinance dedicates two percent towards public art from all Capital Improvement Plan construction projects. There is also the opportunity for private entities to make voluntary contributions.

As part of the ordinance, the city's new Public Art Committee met for the first time in February. In addition to the first art installations, they are also beginning work on the Public Art Master Plan, which will guide the program for the next five years. The committee, composed of seven members elected at-large, meets on the fourth Thursday of every month at 5 p.m. in City Hall.

Coconut Creek

Visitors to Coconut Creek don't have to look hard to find the first major piece resulting from its public art ordinance. At an imposing 40 feet tall, the Sculptural Biofiltration wall on the southeast corner of the parking garage at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek is a thriving example of the city's desire to have all of its public art follow a sustainable and green theme.

"What's really exciting about it is that it is not just a piece of art. It is a solar energy system and water capturing system that really functions," said Sheila Rose, director of sustainable development for the city.

Designed by artist Michael Singer, the biofiltration wall is capable of harvesting, storing and recycling 150,000 gallons of storm water an hour. The solar array on the roof also produces energy for irrigation and other needs.

Coconut Creek developed its public art ordinance in 2007. The city’s goal was to add a cultural layer to its downtown and main street district development while boosting community identity, commemorating the city's history and beautifying its public areas. Other installations still in the planning stages include a wind turbine in the patio area of a proposed 12-screen theater by the Promenade.

Developers are encouraged to construct their own art installations, but can also opt to pay a square footage art fee into the city's Public Art Fund to finance a city-sponsored project. Coconut Creek is also hoping to install art along its Greenway system by applying for a grant from National Endowment for the Arts. The city also promotes student art through its quarterly student art exhibit that is displayed at City Hall.

Tamarac

Since 2004, six art installations have gone up in strategic locations around Tamarac, including sculptures, paintings, monuments and fountains. City leaders say their public art is placed to provoke thought, to commemorate, to promote cultural diversity and to improve the visual landscape.

"If the artist has done their homework, the art should speak of some sort to the activity that goes on near the site, either in the past or the present," said George Gadson, the chair of the Public Art Committee. "It adds an aesthetic that enhances the area."

At Veterans Memorial Park, residents and visitors alike can visit In the Spirit of Peace a design by artist Beth Ravitz that is composed of four different aluminum elements designed to look like a flame. There's also a piece by Gadson, who is well known for his public art - a 7-foot bronze sculpture called Egretta Thula at Tamarac Commons Park. The Public Art Committee, which is responsible for the process of selection and installation of each project, also recently selected a short list of artists to design benches throughout the city to enhance its major corridors.

The existing art projects, as well as those in the planning stages, are paid for from developer fees on new construction. One percent of the cost of construction projects in Tamarac is put into a fund dedicated to the purchase and placement of art for public spaces; no property taxes or sales taxes are used.

Fort Lauderdale

As a destination city for travelers from across the globe, the city of Fort Lauderdale is hoping its proposed public art program will provide an eye-catching new element to its famed beaches, waterways, urban areas and parks. Public Information Specialist Angela DiPietro said the city will be hoping to follow the success of other public art programs by providing aesthetically pleasing places which will both reinvigorate and inspire.

“Public places are where the community comes together to connect and promote interaction and engagement. Public art enhances the aesthetic and cultural value of the city and also provides for economic development and tourism benefits," said DiPietro.

The ordinance was due to be proposed to City Commission following its summer recess. Funding for the public art project will be proposed at two percent of the Capital Improvement/Construction budget. Appropriations to the fund will be made when the Capital Improvement Plan budget is adopted by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. As part of the ordinance, a public art committee will be established with members appointed by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. The committee will be responsible for making recommendations for public art guidelines, art, artist selection and the public art fund.

The city recently completed the Play Your City FTL project, which featured a brigade of artistically repurposed pianos strategically placed throughout Fort Lauderdale.

Lauderhill

Since 2004, the City of Lauderhill has been taking an integrated approach to public art to ensure it becomes a part of the culture of the city. Since adopting the ordinance, the city has placed 25 different installations at facilities and parks. One of its beacons of success has been City Hall, where visitors are surrounded by art. Underfoot, there's a terrazzo floor by artist Karl Craig and a wall mural, Lauderhill Stories, by Georgeta Fondos that accentuates the east entrance to the Commission Chambers. Inside the

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