The Amherst Town Council has unanimously approved a new Percent for Art bylaw. The bylaw will provide funds for new public artworks in town. It mandates that half a percent of the budget of all eligible capital construction project over $1 million be used for permanent, on-site works of public art.
The Percent for Art bylaw will provide funding for visual artworks that will be integral to new, large-scale buildings and sites in town. Such artworks add to the quality of life of the users of public spaces, attract visitors to town, and create opportunities for people to have access to works of art who might not. Amherst is only community in Massachusetts besides Cambridge to have such a program.
The bylaw was an initiative of the Public Art Commission. After an original version of the bylaw passed by Town Meeting in 2017 was unable to be enacted, the Commission worked with members of the Town Council to pass the current version.
Lynn Griesemer, President of the Amherst Town Council, said, “This is a terrific step forward demonstrating the Town’s support for the arts." She feels that a critical feature of the bylaw that allows the Town Council to decide whether each individual construction project will include public art was critical to its passage. For example, a new water well facility may be isolated and not have sufficient traffic to warrant placing art at that location; or if funds are tight the Council can decide to forgo a project.
William Kaizen, Chair of the Public Art Commission, said, “It’s wonderful that the town of Amherst has stepped up and started funding the arts. The projects generated by the Percent for Art bylaw will enliven our public spaces and make Amherst an even more desirable place to live, work and play.”
Interested in serving? The Public Art Commission currently has 2 vacancies. Express your interest by filling out a Community Activity Form here.
The Public Art Commission can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org