Amherst picked for initiative to boost  public art

  • Amherst Community History Mural at West Cemetery. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/2/2022 9:31:21 PM
Modified: 2/2/2022 9:29:51 PM

AMHERST — The town’s efforts to bring public art to the community are being enhanced through a free training that town officials will receive from a Boston nonprofit, with the project concluding with a call for a temporary art installation.

The town was recently selected as one of eight communities statewide to take part in “Making it Public,” a New England Foundation for the Arts initiative. Both the chairman of the Public Art Commission, William Kaizen, and a municipal planner, Maureen Pollock, will learn how to support, create and promote public art.

A $10,000 grant from the foundation will be available when soliciting the temporary art.

In 2020, Amherst became the second community, after Cambridge, to adopt a Percent for Art bylaw. That bylaw calls for 0.5% of the budget for all new town capital projects over $1 million to pay for on-site works of visual arts.

“The town’s goal is to accelerate its efforts at promoting public art in Amherst by helping train staff and establish a template for best practices as we move forward with our Percent for Art Program,” Pollock said in a statement.

Kaizen calls the opportunity to participate in “Making it Public” a way to bring more public art to town and provide professional development. The art commission has overseen various projects in town, including the painting of utility boxes and the creation of a new art display at Boltwood parking garage.

“Participating in the ‘Making it Public’ program will bolster our existing efforts to bring art to Amherst by allowing us to produce our public art projects more professionally and equitably,” Town Manager Paul Bockelman said in a statement. He observes that art in town has extended from famed writers including Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost to contemporary artists such as Judith Ingleses and Benjamin Cowdan.

Artists from Massachusetts can register with the New England Foundation for the Arts by Feb. 18 to participate in a training that will allow them to apply for coming calls for the temporary public art in Amherst or other participating communities.

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