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City Council approves $200,000 for public art


Rochester City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved two $100,000 contracts for a pair of major public art initiatives in or on city-owned properties.

One of the initiatives covers the administration of a mural program, and the other covers the oversight of a “public art installations program” that could include anything from sculptures to temporary performing arts productions.

“These programs align with the city’s vision for a more dynamic and equitable city of the arts,” the legislation for the contracts reads.

The legislation represents the first financial allocations in years from the city’s “percent-for-art” fund, and delivers on a pledge by the administration of Mayor Malik Evans to resuscitate the program.

That fund is supposed to dedicate 1 percent of the cost of certain capital projects to public art, although the effort has been moribund since the law creating the fund was enacted in 2007.

Aria Strategies, a Rochester company that works primarily with nonprofit organizations, would administer the murals program, under the legislation.

Roc Arts United, a local arts and cultural organization, is in line for the contract to coordinate the installation of public artworks.

Both would be awarded up to $100,000 apiece, but would be permitted to take no more than $20,000 in administration fees, according to the legislation. The remainder would be used to pay for artists and whatever materials or subcontractors they need to carry out their commissions.

The contract with Roc Arts United is notable because members of its steering committee have been among the most vocal opponents of a city-led effort to establish a business improvement district downtown.

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The organization issued a statement from the co-chairs of its steering committee, Amanda Chestnut and Mona Seghatoleslami, that read that the initiatives were the result of years of advocacy and that the group was “proud and excited” to see them come to fruition.

“We hope to continue working with the City of Rochester and other local leaders to support, enhance, and value the arts in our city,” the statement read. “We have been, and will continue to be, ardent supporters of making Rochester a ‘City FOR the Arts.’”

Seghatoleslami is a radio host at WXXI Public Media, the parent company of CITY. Chestnut is a freelance writer for CITY.

Roc Arts United formed several years ago in response to the dissolution of the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester, an umbrella organization that promoted the arts by funding local artists, helping to award grants, and coordinating arts events.

Since then, Roc Arts United has become a major resource for local artists and arts groups, and a staunch advocate for greater public funding for the arts and for the formation of a new arts and cultural council.

Both Mayor Malik Evans and Monroe County Executive Adam Bello have said that devoting more resources to the arts, particularly to groups that have been historically overlooked and establishing an arts council, are priorities for their administrations.

With reporting by Daniel Kushner.

David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at [email protected].