March 12, 2013

House Media News Release: Art in Public Places Program "Unfairly Targeted"

(PRESS) A House Republican's bill continues a familiar assault on the public sector, this time targeting the Art in Public Places program.

HB1430 will effectively kill the Art in Public Places program by extending the moratorium on the requirement for state agencies to incorporate art into their capital improvement projects. If HB1430 passes and the program is unable to take in any more projects because of the extended moratorium, the Art in Public Places program will die.

"This is a wonderful program that is being unfairly targeted. This bill does nothing to save our state money," said Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman. "The funding for this program comes from bond issuances, not state appropriations. Think of the beautiful underpasses around our state - these are the result of the Art in Public Places program. This program serves the important purpose of showcasing Oklahoma's strong cultural pride through public art installments, and it does this without being allocated one dollar from the state's general revenue fund."

"This program makes our state a better place not only culturally but also economically," said Virgin. "When our public spaces look better, other businesses will want to locate near them. You can't ask for a better, less expensive economic incentive to attract and grow business in our state."

If it passes, HB1430 will affect the paintings, sculpture, and other pieces Oklahomans enjoy around the State Capitol building and other public places.

"Our Capitol features wonderful pieces of art, and HB1430 could eventually take that away," said Virgin. "This program provides a highly educational experience for all Oklahomans to enjoy, here at the Capitol and around our state. Imagine how different our Capitol would look, for example, for the students who visit throughout the year, if the art provided through this program is taken away? Our whole state will suffer from this short-sighted bill."

The Art in Public Places program requires 1.5 percent of new construction or renovation costs (exceeding $250,000) to state buildings be spend on public art not to exceed $500,000.