The Metro Arts Commission and the Nashville Civic Design Center unveiled Tuesday a 282-page report that could serve as a template for the possible placement and types of future public art for the city.
MAC Executive Director Jen Cole said the report, titled Nashville/Davidson County Public Art: Location Study & Typology Recommendations, focuses on neighborhood- and pedestrian-scale art more than large pieces found downtown, such as Ghost Ballet for the East Bank Machineworks and Citizen.
“As part of our overall strategic plan, we wanted to 1) consider ways to scale public art throughout the county responsive to demographic and growth patterns and that would promote maximum access to public art; and 2) provide a framework for local artists,” Cole said.
The report is offered to the public as a free PDF download here.
Cole said the team worked on the study from May to December of last year, looking at all existing Metro Planning Department neighborhood plans. From there, the arts commission took its own guidelines and assessed public art in other cities to create a blueprint of sorts involving location and art type.
“Nashville is very new to public art,” Cole said. “The study offers a way to do a thorough analysis of places in which we can put public art but also shows what public art looks like in other cities.”
The Metro Arts Commission paid for the report, enlisting NCDC. The budget was about $22,000.
“We feel that was a wise investment before we started placing public art willy-nilly around the county,” Cole said.
Cole said Nashville/Davidson County Public Art: Location Study & Typology Recommendations also can help the general citizenry understand sources of public art funding. She said the private sector in various cities is contributing to art placed within the public realm.
“When we installed the bike racks earlier in the year, I got half a dozen calls from private businesses,” Cole said.
Gary Gaston, NCDC design director, and design fellow Melissa Alexander handled the bulk of the report’s work for the center.
“It frames an ambitious plan for the future of art — and not just in downtown Nashville,” Gaston said. “It’s important because it is the vision for how you go about implementing art throughout the county.”
Ronnie Steine, Metro councilman-at-large and generally acknowledged as the council’s foremost proponent of and authority on art, said the report is a “huge step forward” for public art in Davidson County.
Steine said identifying public sites in virtually every council district that would be conducive to public art can create many opportunities and, along with the team approach used to produced the report, is "egalitarian.”
“This will help spur thought and build interest throughout the entire county,” he said.