The Carson City Board of Supervisors rejected a Cultural Commission plan to fund public art in Carson City on Thursday, voting 3-2.
Some board members, however, sounded as though they might consider another ordinance if it used a different financing method. The plan they considered on first reading called for 1.25 percent of any general fund capital money set aside for projects to go into a public art fund.
“I just don’t want to get into a situation where we buy things that we don’t want,” said Supervisor John McKenna, one of the trio stopping the proposal in its tracks. The other opponents in the prevailing majority were Supervisors Brad Bonkowski and Jim Shirk. Favoring it were Mayor Robert Crowell and Supervisor Karen Abowd.
Even Crowell voiced some concern about the draft ordinance but added, “I think it’s important for public art to get off the ground in our community.”
Abowd voiced her support more assertively: “To me, this is a vision for the future.”
Bonkowski said he supports the arts 100 percent, but he urged supporters to find some other financing solution. He was concerned that the ordinance as drafted would result in the city padding project costs to cover the amounts earmarked for the public art fund.
McKenna in his earlier remarks talked about an alternative that might attach the financing to particular projects rather than the dedicated manner in the ordinance.
The ordinance had the support of representatives from the city’s cultural community, as well as the backing of the Cultural Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission. Staff handling supervisors’ questions included Roger Moellendorf, Parks and Recreation Department director, and Vern Krahn, city parks planner.
Moellendorf said the financing was one of two ways cities handle such public-arts funding, and he touted an unusual feature of the draft ordinance. He said it actually included 1 percent for the art, the additional quarter of a percent for its maintenance.
Among those testifying for the plan were John Shelton, executive director of the Brewery Arts Center; Robert Stansbury and Eugene Paslov of the Cultural Commission; and Carol Scott of Wild Horse Productions, whose late husband, Jeffrey, also was on the commission.
John Wagner, state chairman of the Independent American Party, opposed the ordinance.
“I have a problem with taxpayer money for art,” he said.