Did you know that PlanCOS, the new comprehensive plan that will guide Colorado Springs through 2040, includes an entire chapter on furthering Colorado Springs’ “Renowned Culture?” One of the many key strategies in PlanCOS is to “complete, update, and implement public art plans and to consider arts and culture in other city plans.”
To that end, the City began a Public Art Master Planning process that resulting in a citywide plan for the future of public art in Colorado Springs. The final document, was approved by City Council for adoption, and includes suggestions for locations for public artworks, recommendations on sustainable funding source(s), staffing, and other big ideas.
Through the fall of 2019, the public was engaged through various community outreach activities and valuable input was collected.
Why Public Art Matters
Public art is a simple concept. Most broadly defined, the term refers to works of art in any media that have been planned and executed with the intention of being sited or staged in the public domain, usually outside and/or places that are publicly accessible to all.
When you get into the question of why public art matters, and why we should support it, things get more interesting and complex. An article by the Americans for the Arts titled "Why Public Art Matters" states that:
“Cities gain value through public art – cultural, social, and economic value. Public art is a distinguishing part of our public history and our evolving culture. It reflects and reveals our society, adds meaning to our cities and uniqueness to our communities. Public art humanizes the built environment and invigorates public spaces. It provides an intersection between past, present and future, between disciplines, and between ideas. Public art is freely accessible.”
Research tells us that public art directly influences how people experience and connect with a place. It provides a sense of place, wonder, and memory. Art encourages attachment to a location for residents through cultural and historical understanding, and by highlighting what is unique about the places where people live, work, and play.
Public art also makes communities more vibrant and sustainable economically. People want to move to places that are memorable, activated and supportive of the arts. By engaging in public art as a tool for growth and sustainability, communities can thrive economically.
Colorado Springs Needs a Public Art Master Plan
Colorado Springs has an existing collection of just over 90 works of public art. However, the City has no sustainably-funded public art program to create new artwork or dedicated staff to assist with such a program at this time. It is a time of great change and development in Colorado Springs, and there is momentum for directly addressing the current and future art collection in the City and creating a plan to guide future public art activities.
Our planning process has engaged the community at all levels, helping us better understand attitudes and aspirations for a public art program in Colorado Springs.
Stay informed on the process by following #PublicArtCOS on Facebook and Instagram. You can also email questions and comments to PublicArtCOS@ColoradoSprings.gov.