It may take big bucks to produce public art. But it doesn’t require vast tax funding.
The chief example of this is the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from the French, and the restoration of which, some time back, was paid for by private (mostly American) funds.
Even Maya Lin’s controversial design for the Vietnam Memorial Wall was mostly funded by privately collected monies.
Of course, the quality of art isn’t determined by the funding. I have friends who tell me I have just “got to see” the statue called “Portlandia” in Portland, Oregon, even though they’re pretty certain it was a taxpayer-funded project. I keep forgetting to look for it each time I visit the rainy northwest city.
Most modern public art is garbage, of course. And too much public art is paid for not by volunteer donors but by taxpayers. That’s my main criticism: public art should be supported by the public voluntarily, and politicians should stay out of art patronage.
Right now, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, faces a big budget crunch. And yet the city council awarded $2.5 million to a Massachusetts artist to build a very tall public artwork. The proposed look of the project seems science-fictional to me. It may even become an example of good public art.
What’s bad is spending other people’s money, taxpayers’ money. The people of Phoenix who wanted it should have raised the funds themselves.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.