Painting a bigger picture

With the capital city on the brink of a revival, Sacramento continues to direct unprecedented public/private investments to the local landscape. This investment can be seen in the steel beams beginning to go up for the new Entertainment and Sports Center (ESC); lofts and brownstones; and a streetcar to traverse over the Tower Bridge and through downtown.

A rich palette of structures has been grabbing the headlines, while public art has long been blended relatively quietly into the canvas. Until now. The giant of all public art projects is getting all the attention – the proposed, highly celebrated Jeff Koons’ Coloring Book sculpture. Coloring Book may be the opening act, but it need not steal the show. What’s not getting fair play is the other headline: the biggest investment in regional art this city has ever known is part of the proposed package.

This comes on the heels of other significant improvements in the quality and quantity of public art opportunities funded by the City over the past several years. The City’s investments reflect a deep-rooted commitment to see local art and artists thrive.

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Just last week, the City made a proposed contribution of $5 million towards a $6.5 million renovation of the historic Fremont School as a home to performing arts. The studios project will also house a visual arts education program through the school district. The project will take a dilapidated, unused building and turn it into a nearly 50,000-square-foot arts hub that will allow several performing arts and cultural groups to share space. They include the Sacramento Ballet, Capital Stage Company, Alliance Francaise de Sacramento, Calidanza-Children’s Chorus and the Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange.

But that’s just one of the most recent developments. Early on, the City made a decision to allot 2 percent of the City’s capital improvement program to the integration of public art. In the last seven years, dozens of regional artists have received commissions totaling more than $1.5 million, for sculptures, galleries, installations, and integrated projects in city buildings and parks.

This year alone, the City has disbursed $135,000 to 55 organizations for the Cultural Arts Awards. Another $500,000 in Cultural Equity Grants is going to small arts organizations catering to underserved communities. More than $370,000 will provide assistance to local arts organizations in renovating, constructing or acquiring arts and cultural facilities.

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The new downtown arena is yet another major opportunity to showcase the region’s local artists. The Sacramento Metro Public Arts Commission (SMAC) recently announced a $1.5 million commitment to regional art at the new downtown arena. As a result of the contribution, local and regional artists will be commissioned to create works that will be integrated throughout the ESC. This latest contribution is historic—it’s the largest single contribution to local art in the city, ever—and marks the next chapter in Sacramento’s efforts to be a destination city for art, culture and entertainment.

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In short, the Sacramento art scene is in the midst of a renaissance, with more funds and more opportunities available to local artists than ever before. The City of Sacramento is in rebuilding mode and we are committed to ensuring our artists are part of this amazing journey.

Make sure to view a list of all recent local art investments made by the City.