City of South Burlington, VT

Contact Name
Ilona Blanchard
Project Dates
Initiated 2014, adopted 2015, amended 2016.
The City of South Burlington is micro city on the edges of a regional destination. We are a City known for schools, sports, shopping, highways and corporate headquarters, not a thriving art hub. Yet the City Council has supported a policy that will result in public art being incorporated into public projects and established a public art selection committee to recommend what art gets funded. This committee has now issued a Call to Artists to commission a $50,000 art piece. How do you go about writing a policy that supports and funds art in public projects? How do you get your local government to adopt it? How do you fund art in public projects? Learn step by step how a little City in Vermont did just that, discuss important components of a policy, and strategies to get it adopted.
Project Goals
What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
South Burlington had only ever selected one public art piece in the past. It was a very expensive public private project none of the processes, funding or expertise extended beyond that project. Hence the City had no funding for public art, no selection process, and no stable of people willing to volunteer time and expertise to advising the City on art.

The goals were as follows:

1. Make art part of the South Burlington community identity and experience.
2. Establish a public art selection process.
3. Establish a public body empowered to advise the City Council on public art.
4. Create a funding stream.
5. Normalize the funding of art in public projects
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
To date the goals have not changed, although we have tweaked the policy due to issues with filling the board positions.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
The main partners were the City Council.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
The City has a TIF District to develop a downtown. This policy is directly tied public projects related to the new downtown.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
We looked a policies throughout the US, mainly by googling 1 percent for art.
Project Specifics
Please list the steps taken to implement the project:
One City staff member recommended the project and carried out the work. It was sponsored by the City Manager (i.e. supported by) and presented to and approved by the City Council.

1. Research policies
2. Communicate intention to the legislative body by identifying need and potential policy direction
3. Develop draft policy and review with other City staff (parks, highway, planning, budgeting officers)
3.a Purpose of the policy - why is it needed?
3.b establish a body - number of people, appointment terms, staggered terms
3.c Establish a selection process - i.e. what does the body need to consider? is the process competetive? etc...
3.d Establish the authority of the committee and any other regulations - timing of meetings, advise the Council or make selections on behalf of the Council, authority over accession or deaccession too?
3.e Establish any requirements on purchasing art - i.e. what projects are required to have public art? At what level is art required to be funded?
4. Take the policy to the Council - this can be a one or two step process - we can talk about that.
5. The Council approves the resolution
6. The City administration will then need to staff and get the committee up and running.
If the project steps changed over time, please describe how:
This is a usual policy development process but I would like to talk about these steps in the context of working outside of the administration to draft a policy and how that is done.
What were your major obstacles for the completion of the project?
Since the Committee has been up and running the City has amended the original resolution once. The original composition of the Public Art Selection Committee included part of a standing Design Review Committee which rarely met, and did not have many citizens volunteering to serve. This made it very difficult to obtain a quorem necessary to meet and conduct the work of the committee. Since then the resolution was amended so that all the members of the Committee are clearly Public Art Selection Committee members plus an ad hoc representative of the Vermont Council on the Arts.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
The administration and members of the existing committee were able to recognize the issues and thus supported the changes, which made the Council supportive.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Research other policies.
Work with your local governments staff and ensure that you understand how their process works.
Work with your legislative body.
Project Impact
How has this project strategically connected arts and cultural activities to social, economic, and cultural issues in your community? What is different in your community as a result of this project?
The City has just issued a Call to Artists for a $50,000 project. It is something we could not do without the policy.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
How did you measure this success or progress?
The committee is up and operating successfully within the limits of the policy.
Please describe any unexpected impacts:
The Committee is interested in art in general which is a context that does not occur often in South Burlington and thus meetings have resulted in many art discussions...