Public Art Chattanooga Launches City Creators Program
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Anna Carll and Claire Vassort
The City of Chattanooga’s public art division, Public Art Chattanooga, launched its City Creators program Wednesday, which provides opportunities for artists to collaborate with city government and apply their artistic practice to civic and community-focused projects.
The City Creators program aims to inspire creative thinking and generate authentic interactions with the community, transforming city government’s projects and systems in response to the needs of Chattanoogans.
“This program emphasizes the essential role the arts and artists play in Chattanooga, broadens our minds to consider new possibilities and demonstrates the power that each of us has as creators in shaping the future of our city,” said Mayor Andy Berke.
The City Creators program is modeled after similar programs in cities around the country, like the Creative CityMaking program in Minneapolis, and is guided by national best practices for artist and municipal partnerships outlined by Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts that inspires, promotes and connects arts and culture as potent contributors to civic and social change.
The launch of this program fulfills objectives outlined in Public Art Chattanooga’s 2019 Strategic Plan, to initiate artist-led community engagement strategies that help guide neighborhood empowerment through public art.
Action steps include the development of a roster of regional artists with an interest in and track record of working with community groups, as well as the launch of artist-in-residencies working with city departments and in communities. PAC is rolling out the City Creators program with two types of opportunities: City Artist and Creative Strategist.
“We’re delighted to support and promote the work of an extremely talented roster of artists who will each add their own layer of creativity and authenticity to the work of our office and other city departments,” said Katelyn Kirnie, director of Public Art. “By empowering diverse voices and perspectives through their process, these artists will help create a more inclusive public realm.”
The inaugural City Artist, artist-in-residence is a part-time position embedded within the Chattanooga Department of Transportation (CDOT). The City Artist will work closely with staff to incorporate their artistic vision and creative process in the early planning stages of CDOT projects and systems. The Footprint Foundation has provided support for this role by funding an artist mentorship that will foster specific skills, broaden the artistic practice, and/or expand the community engagement tactics of the City Artist as they orient to working in city government.
2020 City Artist: Jules Downum
Creative Strategists are contracted by PAC to work closely with City departments and residents to develop a community vision for public art including project location, direction, and scope. Using their own creative process, artists develop engagement and art-making activities to build relationships with residents and draw out interests, needs and aspirations. PAC’s work with Creative Strategists helps ensure public art preserves the culture, character, and integrity of neighborhoods and is a great source of pride for the community it serves. In 2019, PAC piloted the Creative Strategist role working with ELLA Library to inform public art projects in the East Lake neighborhood. They will continue their work with the community as projects are implemented in 2020.
2020 Creative Strategists: 2CREATE (led by Anna Carll and Claire Vassort), Erika Roberts, Katie Hargrave, Josiah Golson, R.I.S.E. (led by Shane Morrow), Significant Developments (led by Daniel Johnson).