The city of Durango is considering applying for a second $25,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to help fund an art project in the raised medians at the U.S. Highway 550/160 intersection, which could take the budget for it to a possible $100,000.
The city has already received about $25,000 from the NEA. It plans to match the grant with about $25,000 in cash and in-kind contributions such as staff time, said Colleen O’Brien, the city’s business development and redevelopment coordinator.
If the city receives an additional $25,000 grant from NEA and matches it with cash and in-kind contributions, it will double the amount of money it could spend.
In its call for artists to lead the project, the city outlines how it could use that $100,000 to fund the project. The expenses include $30,000 to pay the lead artist, $20,000 for supplies, $2,500 for marketing, $28,000 for bases and installation, and $18,000 for traffic control permits. The deadline for applications is in December.
The numbers are a rough outline based on industry standards of what could be spent, O’Brien said.
The amount spent will be contingent on the proposal for art that is selected. If that proposal does not need all of the money that the second grant would provide, the city might not apply for the full amount.
If the city does not receive the second grant, the project may be scaled back or the city might pursue other funding or another partnership, O’Brien said.
Unlike some of the public art pieces installed in town in the past, this piece will require the selected artist to work with students and the community on the development of the art, which also makes a difference in the budget.
The entire project is expected to take two years, O’Brien said.
“We want to support our creative economy and our creative professionals and give them a fair compensation,” she said.
The three artists selected as finalists to lead the project will also receive a $500 stipend as part of the city’s lengthy selection process, which will include a presentation to the community and renderings.
O’Brien could not say how the Arc of History influenced the planning for this project because it proceeded her employment with the city.
However, the city’s Public Art Commission wants the community to be more involved with the public art, she said.
The Arc of History was initially met with some outrage over its cost and aesthetic value when it was installed at the intersection in 2014. The city spent $28,000 on the art piece. In 2015, it was adorned with dinosaur and dragon heads, before baby dinosaurs hatched at its base.
The pranks turned into vandalism when the stones were damaged in mid-2015. The art commission decided to remove the sculpture in 2016 and auction the stones.
Charles Leslie, a member of the art commission, is hopeful the project will be something that the community can feel positive about and look attractive to people entering Durango.
Other cities such as Grand Junction, Santa Fe and San Francisco have used public art not to just beautify their communities but to help give the towns an identity, he said.0
“I hope that Durango and La Plata County find that art is an important way to illustrate what the personality of our environment is,” said Leslie, who is also the director of the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.