A pair of Idaho legislators have spawned a letter campaign by Boise City’s arts department to seek support for a move to kill House Bill 311.
Introduced by Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger and Sen. Regina Bayer, HB 311 would require public art costing $25,000 or less be approved by a simple two-thirds majority vote from City Council, but projects of $25,000 or more would require approval of a sixty percent majority public vote.
Ironically, this bill comes from a legislature that is hell-bent on denying a public voice in matters of state wide citizen initiatives, but giving us a voice in public art projects in excess of $25,000.
The legislature has also sought to limit the authority of the governor and the attorney general.
If the city rationale to kill the legislation is any indicator, perhaps the folks at the capitol have a point.
Which means that Boise City isn’t thrilled to submit art expenditures to public approval.
We can hear it now as folks in New York, Atlanta, or Austin plan their summer vacations saying, “We need to visit Boise and see that rusty iron at city hall and the crack in the wall on the big hotel.”
THE CITY ARTS LETTER FOLLOWS
City of Boise Opposes House Bill 311 Relating to Funding of Public Art
The City of Boise and its department of Arts & History would like to bring a proposed bill, House Bill 311: Restrictions on Public Art Expenditures, to your attention. Introduced by Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger and Sen. Regina Bayer, HB 311 would require that public art costing $25,000 or less be approved by two-thirds majority vote from City Council, and projects of $25,000 or more be approved by sixty percent majority public vote.
We write to you today to express our opposition to HB 311. Municipal public art programs already involve significant public engagement and financial oversight. As drafted, the bill would add unnecessary costs to the City’s ability to adequately resource and manage public art. Public art is one of the many attributes of the City of Boise that contributes to the city’s perennial listing as one of the top communities to live, and supports a diverse local economy of professional artists and their interconnected support networks and trades.
While the proposed bill has not yet been voted on by the full House, the course of action you may choose to take is to contact members of the House of Representatives and your respective legislators expressing your opposition to HB 311.
Testimony of Kathy Griesmyer, Government Affairs Director
Members of the House of Representatives
Public art throughout the city is what makes Boise unique, and draws tourists from around the country who in turn support our local tourism industry and hospitality workers, restaurants and small businesses. Our community members recognize the value of investing in art and the artistic community in an effort to increase vibrancy in our urban environment.
If you have any questions about our position on this bill, please contact Kathy Griesmyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 208-890-3800, or Karl LeClair, Public Art Program Manager, at email@example.com or 208-608-7044.
Your Boise Arts & History Team
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