Del Mar adopts public art policy

DEL MAR — After a 16-month effort, the city adopted a public art policy, but the two council members who created the document cast the dissenting votes in a rare split decision at the May 15 meeting.

In their proposed policy, Mayor Terry Sinnott and Councilwoman Sherryl Parks recommended a seven-member advisory committee made up of three artists, one resident, a Del Mar business owner, with preference given to art-related businesses, and one representative each from the Del Mar Village Association and Del Mar Foundation.

The motion that passed 3-2 included an amendment from Dave Druker that the committee be made up of four at-large residents, with priority given to applicants with an art background.

“I felt we should have residents with art backgrounds,” Sinnott added. “Either way, Del Mar wins.”

Parks said community members requested the committee be open to all, not just

Del Mar residents.

“I was hoping to get applicants who have expertise in getting really good art into Del Mar,” she said. “My hope is the committee gets off the ground with experienced and knowledgeable folks in the arts.”

“I always dislike using professionals to determine what we should be doing,” Druker said. “The more residents we have and the less professionals we have I think is going to be better.

“Whether they’re artists or have an art background … is neither here nor there,” he added, noting that members of the Design Review Board and Planning Commission are not required to have design or planning backgrounds.

“This is by far going to be the touchiest subject that anybody will ever discuss,” Druker said. “For an artist to tell us what is art is interesting. … Because art is in the eye of the beholder we need to have people that can see it from all different viewpoints.”

The primary goal of the policy will be cultural enrichment for Del Mar residents and visitors. It will begin as a five-year pilot program.

The first two years will focus on art donated or purchased with donated funds so there is no initial cost to the city.

The policy will then be expanded to include pieces purchased by Del Mar. Whether the money comes from the general fund or impact fees will be determined by the committee.

The art can be located on public or private property and can be sculptures, murals, architectural elements or design elements incorporated into a capital improvement project.

Standardized fixtures such as gates and streetlights may be contracted to artists for unique or limited editions provided the work is designed specifically for the city as public art.

The committee will also include a nonvoting ex-officio member who could be a visual artist, architect, urban designer or art collector, critic, curator or educator to help with installations.

At the end of the five-year pilot program, City Council will evaluate the program and determine if it should be continued or expanded.

In January 2016 Sinnott and Parks were appointed to a subcommittee to help develop a draft policy, which was created with input from several sources, including the Del Mar Village Association.

When the draft was presented in October, their colleagues asked them to seek additional input.

Using feedback provided by two local artists and members of the Finance and San Dieguito Lagoon committees and the Del Mar Foundation, the policy was modified.

“I am very much supportive of the public art program,” Sinnott said. “It is really needed in our community.”





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