Tuesday, February 27, 2024

City hopes Public Art Master Plan will lead to cultural arts district, more tourism

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The City Council has approved a Public Art Master Plan in hopes that the state will designate Granbury as a cultural arts district.

If that happens, artists will draw tourists to a walkable arts district and the city will draw a lot of green.

The appointment from the Texas Commission on the Arts is considered an economic development boost.

The master plan created by the Granbury Cultural Arts Commission includes sculptures, especially behind City Hall, which abuts scenic Shanley Park; water features; art that “creates natural gathering places” and is “good for photo ops”; and more arts-related events similar to the annual Harvest Moon Festival of the Arts.

The blueprint was approved at the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, April 5, following a brief presentation by Cora Werley, who chairs the Arts Commission.

“God willing, in 2023 we’ll be approved for that… and it will be great for tourism,” Werley said of a cultural arts district.

She stated that the Commission will not wait to receive the designation before starting “right away” on the creation of a Granbury arts slogan and logo and moving forward with a project that involves windows at the Opera House.

Werley did not provide details on that project during her presentation, but Commission member David Southern told the Hood County News that it involves painting scenes relevant to Granbury’s history on window cutouts at the historic performance theater on the square. The project would be partially funded by donations from the Inge family.

Southern said that Charles Inge expressed a desire to see murals painted on those window cutouts, which are rock and do not contain glass like actual windows, before his death in 2020.

He stated that the Commission has discussed using $10,000 from the Inge fund and $10,000 from the city or from community donations to complete the project during the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Southern said that the Commission might propose enlisting the public’s input as to what scenes the murals should depict. He noted that the scenes would have to be approved by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

The 15-page Public Art Master Plan includes goals, budget information, criteria for the acquisition of public art, and guidelines for the management and maintenance of public art. It proposes the creation of a cultural arts district website accessible through links on the city’s and Visit Granbury’s websites.

In addition to Werley and Southern, members of the Cultural Arts Commission include Janice Horak, Barbara Loyd, Stacey Martin, Mickey Parson and Mary Ella Riley.

The Commission was created by the City Council in 2018. The city also established a Public Arts Policy to guide the Commission in creating its master plan.

The panel gathered input from local residents through surveys and worked with community and business associations, stakeholders, property and business owners and city staff.

The council’s adoption of the master plan carried commitments that impact budgeting over the next five years.

The budget listed in the master plan for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which will begin on Oct. 1 and run through Sept. 30, 2023, is for a minimum income of $70,000. Of that amount, $20,000 is to come from stakeholder contributions and the rest would come from the city through Hotel Occupancy Tax and from remaining funds provided by the Inge family.

Budgets for upcoming fiscal years that are included in the master plan grow modestly with each budget cycle and include increasing dollar amounts for grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts — $3,000 for 2023-2024, $5,000 for 2024-2025, and $10,000 for 2025-2026.

Southern noted that the biggest tourist attraction in Oslo, Norway is the sculpture garden behind its City Hall. He said that sculptures outside the Langdon Center near the Granbury Square are a favorite among tourists.

“It’s surprising,” he said, “but people will drive to see public art. And cultural art is tourism.”