Legislative Update: March 11, 2021

This week the City of Boise is tracking House Bill 311 (HB311), which would add unnecessary costs to a City’s ability to resource and manage public artDespite the messaging implied in HB 311, municipal public art programs already involve significant public engagement and financial oversight. As drafted, this bill will instead create unnecessary administrative hurdles for cities who utilize their public art programs. 

First and foremost, public art projects are required to move through more extensive community input than any other function of the City. This includes public engagement during the budgeting process and community member engagement during the design and implementation stages of a newly created art piece. Also, taxpayer engagement in budgetary decisions is already prioritized through the use of public hearings that are considerably less expensive than conducting a special election. 

HB 311 would specifically jeopardize the City of Boise’s Percent-for-Public-Art Ordinance which already implements transparency, fiscal responsibility, and community engagement efforts in the procurement of public art. The annual Percent-for-Public-Art funding allocation amounts to 1.4% of all City-initiated capital construction projects – such as at the Boise Airport, libraries, fire stations and streetscapes – and is presented through a public hearing to Boise City Council during the standard annual City budget process. The Percent-for-Art Ordinance already requires public oversight through City Council approval for all public art project budgets, artist selection, and project design.  

The Ordinance also requires community member participation on artist selection committees by including an Arts & History Commission member, artist or arts professional, and project location stakeholders. Project designs are also presented to the community for feedback, which are then presented to the selection committees and approval bodies to inform decision-making. This process allows the public to provide direct feedback on the growth and development of the City. 

At greatest risk is the potential loss of Boise’s growing creative economy. Under HB 311, commissioned artists won’t be the only entities severely impacted by the loss of public art funding. Skilled labor, trades, and parallel creative services providing design rendering, insurance providers for creatives, accountants, attorneys, and other professional support roles will suffer a loss if commissioned art projects are effectively restricted under this bill. More than two-thirds of the artists commissioned live in Boise, which keeps funding and investments of public art programs within our community, further diversifying the City’s economy. 

Learn more and follow the proposed House Bill.

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