The Broward Cultural Division has launched a dynamic, new initiative designed to encourage the community to actively engage with Broward County's Public Art & Design Program. Friends of Public Art shares the inner workings and the process through which public artworks come to life in the aesthetic tapestry of Broward County. From the selection of artists to the installation of the artwork, members will become knowledgeable about Broward County's museum without walls, while having fun, mingling and learning about public art.
Friends of Public Art members are given unique, behind-the-scenes access to one of the most dynamic and vital contemporary public art programs in the nation. Through a series of events and workshops that include meet-the-artist receptions, artist studio visits, expert-led lectures, films, a first-hand look at public art conservation and invitations to public art special events, members will network and learn about all aspects of public art including current and future Broward County public art initiatives and commissions.
A recent survey of nearly 43,000 people in 26 communities conducted by Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over a three year period discovered that more than schools, low crime rates and economic opportunity, public art, parks and green spaces are the factor that most inspire people to locate and remain in a community. “This is not to say that jobs and housing aren’t important,” the survey states. “Residents must be able to meet their basic needs in a community in order to stay. However, when it comes to forming an emotional connection with the community, there are other community factors which often are not considered when thinking about economic development. These community factors seem to matter more when it comes to attaching residents to their community.”
However, people can only be inspired by public art if they know where and what it is. Ironically, few counties and cities with public art make any meaningful effort to acquaint residents and visitors with their collections. Friends of Public Art is clearly an initiative to not only introduce Broward county residents and guests to their vibrant public art program, but to inspire them as well.
Scheduled events include a One-Two-Three Artist Conversation Series at Broward College of Fine Art that will include artists Mark Fuller (who created local public artworks Depend du Soleil and Whatever You Say, Dear at Florida Gulf Coast University and Cambier’s Quilt in Naples), Carlos Alves and Jim Anderson; a public art film screening of I See What You Mean in the MetroLAB at Florida Atlantic University on October 25; and a lecture and Q&A by distinguished speaker Abby Suckle, who is the founder of cultureNOW, one of the nation’s largest online public art registries.
Most of the events will be free; and there is no cost to sign up.
There is no program similar to Friends of Public Art in Southwest Florida. Lee County has not maintained a public art program for more than a decade. Because Fort Myers' public art program is currently voluntary and unfunded, it does not possess the capacity to implement an educational plan like Friends of Public Art. While Naples requires contributions to its public art fund on a square-footage basis in connection with capital improvement and private commercial projects, it has not yet initiated any steps to promote its developing collection to the public. Florida Gulf Coast University's public art program is funded by the Florida Art in State Buildings law, but FGCU itself does not provide instruction to students, faculty or members of the public about the more than 90 artworks it maintains in its public art collection. Only one organization in Southwest Florida provides public art information and education, and that's True Tours in downtown Fort Myers.
For more information about Friends of Public Art, please visit the Broward Cultural Division website.