The Royal Palm Beach Village Council has budgeted about $462,000 for arts development in the village over the next several years.
At a budget hearing on Wednesday, July 7, the council heard a presentation by Rena Blades of Delos Consulting regarding ideas on how to spend that funding.
Village Manager Ray Liggins said that the council agreed to hear a presentation on arts projects at its strategic planning session, and Councilwoman Jan Rodusky had invited Blades to discuss the benefits of having an art plan.
“Ms. Blades will discuss the arts projects discussed by the council, the ones we have in the budget, [and] the value of creating a plan for future arts purchases, commissions and programs,” Liggins said. “She met with us and went through our budget and things that have been mentioned by the council in the past year or two.”
Blades said the village has the potential to do amazing things, but felt some guidance is needed.
“The question is how to go about doing that?” she said, pointing out that the council has budgeted $100,000 for art at the new village hall, $32,000 at the cultural center, $80,000 at the recreation center and has a placeholder for $250,000 related to the sales surtax. “That’s enough for you, in my opinion, to really hire some extra help for your staff to make good decisions about the plan to spend those dollars, and maybe add to that some of the other opportunities that have been discussed in the past that were programmatic.”
This includes programs such as art fairs outside or augmenting the village’s green market with arts and crafts events.
“Consider, perhaps, an arts festival,” Blades said. “Certainly, when you’re making decisions about major expenditures of public art that will be there for years, experts in that field can help you make decisions about those kinds of works that will be easily retained over decades and, thinking through your community, how citizens will be excited about those works of art. Experts can advise what works can be easily maintained.”
Councilman Jeff Hmara said he felt the village’s special events would be a great platform to incorporate art events, and Blades agreed.
“You have such beautiful parks and such opportunities to up your game a little bit,” she said. “I don’t think it would take much money and time to consider those kinds of things. All the studies show that if you add quality arts experiences for people, arts, crafts, people from your own neighborhoods who are doing interesting things and want to bring them to a public forum, it will enhance your economy here.”
Blades said art events will encourage people to come out longer, dine in local restaurants and spend more money. “All the studies will show you it’s a good use of public funding to augment what you’re doing here for recreation and the arts,” she said.
Architectural enhancements of public buildings is another element Blades discussed, such as a fountain planned for the new village hall.
“[Fountains] are great, but studies also show that if you spend just a little more time thinking about it and install something that will really intrigue and interest your citizens, and beautify it from an arts standpoint, it will put you on the map in a different way,” she said.
Councilwoman Selena Samios said she liked the idea of having a part-time person on staff to help coordinate arts projects and provide more connections with the arts community.
“I think we all have our own visions and ideas of what we consider as art,” Samios said. “On a personal level, there are some things I’ve seen throughout the county. A lot of times the architectural detail of a building is used as art. Architecture is great when it’s done correctly.”
Blades said that architecture is the highest form of the arts when it is done well. “In this case, though, the spirit of arts in public places is to commission and install an important work of art by a noted artist or artist collaborative,” she said, adding that she felt bringing in somebody on staff would help in making those decisions.
Mayor Fred Pinto asked Liggins if an art consultant could be added to the budget.
“It’s not in the proposed budget,” Liggins said. “I would need that direction to put something in the budget. I think we’re going to try a part-time person first. I think we’re talking about a year, maybe two to do what we’re doing here. We have the $462,000 budgeted.”