Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Public Art Fuels Tourism

In difficult economic times, cities often look for creative ways to bring people to their downtowns, and more cities are turning to public art to do that.

At its annual conference last month, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural affairs addressed the issue of culture and tourism. Gayle Lipsig led a session at the conference on how public art can be a tourism draw and, consequently, an economic stimulus. Lipsig also chairs an established public art program in Saugatuck, called Art Round Town.

"You need to have a plan, a strategy that you pre-sell. You just can't come in and say I'm doing it and whether you like it or not," Lipsig said.

Lipsig says cities go wrong when they don't ask themselves what they're trying to accomplish by commissioning a painting on an overpass or a sculpture in a downtown city square.

"In an economically healthy city, there's no easy way to tell if public art is acting as an economic stimulus, says Lipsig, "but, in communities struggling economically, it's more obvious when new art galleries and restaurants spring up."

If you're thinking about a Public Art Program in your community that will benefit your economic development plan, give me a call at 512.556.6997. I have the expertise and knowledge that can assist you in seeing your vision become a reality.

Article reprinted courtesy of Michigan Radio Arts and Culture, May 27, 2009