Public Art Commission members named; will meet for first time Thursday

The city has named the members of its newly created Fort Wayne Public Art Commission to be sworn in at 9 a.m. Thursday in Community Development Room 324 of Citizens Square. Following the swearing-in ceremony, the commission will hold its first meeting.

Members and the organizations they represent include Susan Mendenhall, Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne; Charles Shepard, Fort Wayne Museum of Art; Renata Robinson, Artlink; Tim Parsley, University of Saint Francis School of Creative Arts; John O’Connell, Purdue Fort Wayne School of Visual & Performing Arts; Alec Johnson, Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation; Pam Holocher, city of Fort Wayne Community Development; Theoplis Smith, City Council appointee; Tom Smith, City Council appointee; Nancy Stewart, mayoral appointee; and Randy Strebig, mayoral appointee. Two practicing artists will be nominated by Commission members during the first meeting.

In March, Mayor Tom Henry and City Council created the Public Art Program, which is overseen by the Commission. Councilmen Glynn Hines and Tom Freistroffer sponsored the legislation. The Art Commission will commission, review and select art to be displayed in public spaces with the goal to enhance the visual environment and strengthen the positive reputation, brand and stature of Fort Wayne and its neighborhoods.

The Public Art ordinance also created the Public Art Fund, which is overseen by the Commission and used for the creation and placement of public art throughout Fort Wayne. Private grants and donations can be made to the fund, and a Public Art Giveback program has also been established. The giveback program asks developers who receive a Tax Increment Finance incentive from the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission to contribute, from their own funds, an amount equal to one percent of the incentive to the Public Art Fund. The maximum contribution is set at $100,000, and at least 50 percent of the funds must be invested in artwork in City neighborhoods.