Nashville’s public art program reportedly isn’t getting enough taxpayer money, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars it’s already spent on public art projects, with some of that money going to artists out-of-state.
Nashville Public Radio reported that Metro Nashville officials are underfunding their art program.
“To make up for it, Metro Arts will soon receive a back payment that can be put toward new sculptures and other large-scale installations,” according to Nashville Public Radio.
The discovery came out of a routine review of finances, the station reported.
“The way public art funding works in Nashville is that whenever Metro does capital spending projects — such as a new building, park, library, or significant renovation — it sets aside 1 percent of the budget for use on public art,” according to Nashville Public Radio.
“But the audit found that some capital projects weren’t counted toward the art calculation in fiscal year 2017. So, the public art fund is owed $363,000 by the city.”
According to the now extinct Tennessee Watchdog:
• Nashville officials paid $300,000 for an exhibit commemorating the Civil Rights movement. The artist lived some 2,000 miles away in Oakland, Calif. The Nashville Metro Arts Commission hired Walter Hood to create “Witness Walls” on the west side of the Metro Nashville Courthouse.
• Nashville taxpayers paid $750,000 so another California artist could construct large multi-colored sticks and place them partially upright near the Music City Center downtown.
• “Tool Fire,” built in 2013, consists of several shovels, rakes, and pickaxes glued together and placed on display along the Shelby Bottoms Greenway. For that project, the city paid an Alabama artist $30,000.
• Nashville taxpayers paid two Seattle artists $350,000 to create a sculpture at Nashville’s West Riverfront Park symbolizing the Cumberland River.
• Nashville officials would have spent no more than $5,000 — at the most — for four new bicycle racks, if they had paid market prices. Instead, they spent upwards of $100,000, at taxpayers’ expense. These aren’t standard bicycle racks. Rather, these bike racks have an artistic flair, which explains why Nashville officials saw fit to spend 20 times as much.
The 2010 Tennessee Pork Report, meanwhile, referred to another art project, costing $340,600, near Nissan Stadium. The report said the project resembled “the remnants of a defunct and mangled roller coaster.”
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Ghost Ballet for the East Bank Machineworks” by the City of Nashville.