The City of Santa Rosa’s Public Art Program and Art in Public Places Committee (APPC) embarked on a strategic planning process to set a new, bold vision that can help the City navigate the current crises and build an empowered, thriving, and inclusive Santa Rosa community connected through the power of art. The resulting four-year plan stretches from FY2021 – FY2024 and was created in collaboration with City staff, APPC members, area artists, issue experts, community leaders, and engaged citizens.
The plan focuses on five key goals:
Diverse voices are represented, included, and celebrated within the programming, process, outreach, and infrastructure of the Public Art Program. Santa Rosa has such rich diversity and cultural expression to offer, but the Public Art Program has yet to engage and support the full array of diverse perspectives in the city. Moving forward, the Public Art Program is committed to being an antiracist organization, one that prioritizes inclusion and strives for equity in its operations, community engagement, and public art. To do this, we will frame “public art” in a more expansive way, inclusive of literature, performance, and experimental works in addition to visual arts. We will also make public art and public art processes more culturally accessible and ensure greater community voice in the commission and grant process.
Neighborhoods are infused with art and community leaders across the city champion arts programming. Historically, public art investment in Santa Rosa has focused on creating an art-rich downtown district. While that has yielded several iconic public art installments, it has left much of the rest of the City of Santa Rosa an arts desert. The Public Art Program will work to remedy this and make public art a more active conversation and physical presence in new locations throughout Santa Rosa. To do this, we will bring art to areas in the City that do not currently have public art programming, and empower diverse community leaders to champion and shape arts programming.
Public Art is funded and maintained as a core component of placemaking and economic development. Embedding the public art programming within the Department of Planning & Economic Development presents a compelling opportunity to think differently about art as a tool for economic recovery and prosperity. The City of Santa Rosa can leverage public art to create a cultural vibrancy and identity that attracts and retains entrepreneurs and enriches commercial corridors to encourage business formation and retention. To do this, we will deepen existing relationships with local business associations, and better leverage public art to drive economic activity.
The Public Art Program and the Art in Public Places Committee are rightfully seen as positive and familiar and as key assets in and for the community. Our ability to be effective and support the economic development and vibrancy of Santa Rosa is contingent on us having a dynamic and engaging relationship with key players and the general public. While we are well known within certain circles, we need a more well-known brand, a broader network, and greater accessibility. To address this, we will invest in public relations, and improve outreach and demystify APPC and Public Art Program processes.
The Public Art Program is more nimble, better resourced, and better equipped to deliver on its mission and fulfill its vision for Santa Rosa. There is an inherent tension between operating in a city bureaucracy and inspiring and supporting world-class art; it requires the Public Art Program to serve as the bridge between two very different worlds. The Public Art Program seeks to leverage the best of each of these worlds to better support one another—for the City of Santa Rosa to more effectively and robustly fund and celebrate public art, and for artists and the public art community to more profoundly shape our city and our community’s narrative. To do this, we will increase opportunities and decrease red tape for temporary projects, and increase staff capacity and strategic collaborations for public art.
With clear metrics to track and a detailed implementation plan, we project this strategic plan requiring an investment of $382,000 (in addition to annual Public Art Program expenditure plans) over the course of the four years. The full plan, available through the link below, solidifies our vision, unpacks each of our five goals into dynamic strategies and actionable tactics, and lays out an implementation plan that details our timelines, resources, and metrics of success. We embark on this work with strong internal alignment and a plan by which to drive profound, meaningful, and sustainable change in our community.