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Fort Wayne City Council extends public art program

Faces of Fort Wayne
File Photo: Rebecca Green
Faces of Fort Wayne was the 2021 public art project throughout the city.

Fort Wayne City Council agreed to extend the city's Public Art Program on an 8-1 vote Tuesday night.

The Public Art Program was established in 2018 as a way to make the city more attractive to residents and tourists. The board is overseen by a commission, and in the last four years $1.5 million worth of installations have been approved, including the Faces of the Fort series that celebrates the city's diversity.

Part of the formation of the program included one-percent of Tax Increment Financing district funding, which is how many of the pieces are funded. The "Art For All!" master plan outlining the program's long-term goals was established in 2020.

Paul Spolhoef is the deputy director of planning and policy for the city. He says pieces are approved through two stages: by a selection committee to vet submissions, and the Public Art Commission itself, as a way of ensuring a piece best represents Fort Wayne.

"We’re leveraging this community expertise as artists, as people who know art, folks that you are helping us appoint to that commission. So there won’t be an exercise of spending public funds on an art installation that is done in secret," Spolhoef said.

4th District councilman Jason Arp was the lone dissenting vote.

Council members from both parties expressed support for eventually removing any sunset dates in the future and making the program permanent.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.