Arts & Events

New: Civic Arts Commission To Discuss 1% for the Arts on Wednesday at 6:30 (Public Comment)

By Linda Franklin, Berkeley resident and member of Berkeley Citizens Action
Monday April 20, 2015 - 03:16:00 PM

Following the example of Oakland, Emeryville, El Cerrito and Palo Alto, Berkeley is preparing to require new development projects designate 1% of their construction budget on public art or pay into the city's public art fund. Public Art funds can be used for sculpture, monument, mural, painting, electronic and media art, video, earth art, installation, performance and social practice art and other artwork. Funds are overseen by the Civic Arts Commission. 

Berkeley already requires government projects to designate 1.5% on public art. For example, the commission is currently considering public art for the Berkeley Downtown BART plaza redesign. They oversaw the call for art proposals for the recent branch library renovations, which resulted in $168,029 spent for civic art, such as the lovely copper and glass mosaics by Gina Dominguez at the South Branch.  

But a recent proposal by Mayor Bates, passed by council, would exempt downtown high-rise development from this new 1% fee for private development! This exemption has been referred to the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission, which takes up the matter at 6:30 pm this Wednesday.  

If downtown developers get a pass, this will cost the city millions in lost funding for the arts. For example, the developer has pegged the construction budget for 2211 Harold Way at $120 Million*. Bates’ recommendation would put more than $1.2 Million back in the pockets of developers, at a time when arts organizations across the city are getting squeezed out by rising rents. I’d recommend expanding the definition of art support to including rent for arts organizations. 

Artists and art supporters need to voice their support for public art funding. The Civic Arts Commission meeting is this Wednesday evening at the North Berkeley Senior Center, Workshop B, 1901 Hearst Street. This item will be the first matter addressed. Get your constituencies out to support 1% for the arts. 

Links to the Civic Arts Commission Agenda and a pamphlet on the Public Art Process are listed below 

Agenda for Civic Arts Commission, April 22 

Public Art Process Guide: