July 27, 2012

Oklahoma City Names First Arts and Culture Liaison

Robbie Kienzel: Arts and Cultural Affairs Liaison for the City of Oklahoma City

The City of Oklahoma City has hired Robbie Kienzle to serve as its first Arts and Cultural Affairs Liaison. The move demonstrates the City's commitment to art in public spaces and it understanding of the role arts and culture play in economic development.

Kienzle’s primary responsibility is to coordinate the City’s one percent for the arts program. The program was passed by City Council in 2009 and requires that 1 percent of construction expenses spent on City-owned property be set aside for art in public spaces. The ordinance applies to:
  • Construction of new buildings
  • Major renovations of existing buildings
  • Significant park developments.

Other major duties of the position include oversight of the Arts Commission, coordination of activities with local arts and cultural groups, identification of new arts opportunities and management of the City’s public art collection.

Kienzle served as Head of the Urban Redevelopment Division for Oklahoma City’s Planning Department. She has worked for the City for 15 years and has more than 20 years of experience connecting arts, architecture and urban redevelopment to support the City’s growth and development
Kienzle has served as the Director of the Festival of the Arts, Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects, Oklahoma Main Street Manager for the City of Shawnee and Visual Arts Consultant for the MAPS library, ballpark and canal projects.

“Robbie’s experience coordinating public art selection for MAPS projects, Will Rogers World Airport expansion and the Skydance Pedestrian Bridge makes her an uniquely qualified candidate for this position,” City Planning Director Russell Claus said. “Over the last 18 months she co-led the effort to implement the City’s Cultural Plan, further advancing her relationship with local artists and arts organizations.”

For more information, call or email Robbie Kienzle at (405) 297- 1740.

The State's Art in Public Places Act
In May, 2004, Governor Brad Henry signed into law Senate Bill 1347, State of Oklahoma: Art in Public Places Act, a bill that supports public art in Oklahoma. The law incorporates artwork in, on, or near new state buildings or those with major renovation projects.

During the 2011 legislative session, a group of state legislators successfully passed a bill that suspends the Oklahoma Art in Public Places requirement for state agencies to incorporate art into their capital improvement projects. The moratorium was enacted for the fiscal years 2012-2014. 

From the National League of Cities
Today's national development patterns have become monotonous, resulting in an "Anywhere USA" of similar-looking strip malls, subdivisions, corridors and office parks. Public Art can be used to add fresh detail and uniqueness to an otherwise bland and repetitive landscape, helping distinguish a development or a community from its competitors.

Communities of “cookie-cutter” developments are ill-prepared for long-term sustainability because they lack defining characteristics that distinguish them from any other community. These developments fill up quickly when they are newly built but begin to flounder when the next, virtually identical development begins. With nothing to distinguish one development from the next, these developments will ultimately fail. 

Public Art helps create long-term distinctiveness that counteracts this trend. Public Art is also a full-fledged investment in the community by the community. When public funds are used it is a community investment. When local artists are employed to create the art it is a community investment. And when the community interacts with and engages with the art it is a community investment.

Seattle, Philly, KC, Albuquerque, Tulsa
For a look at how other cities manage percent-for-art public art programs, visit:
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