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Public Art Summit 2005

Sister City Program Summit on “Strategies for Public Art,” February 17-18, 2005

On February 17-18, 2005, the Sister City Program of the City of New York, Inc. hosted a one-and-a-half day Summit titled "Strategies for Public Art".  In collaboration with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and with assistance provided by the Public Art Fund, the Summit was the first international conference to focus on the municipal challenges of public art.



Sister City Program Board Members pose with Christo and Jeanne-Claude, artists and creators of the Gates, Project for Central Park, at the Central Park Boathouse, February 17, 2005. (left to right: Commissioner Marjorie B. Tiven, Luis Canela, Veronica Kelly, Nancy E. Soderberg, Jeanne-Claude, Christo, NYC Deputy Mayor Patti E. Harris, Lynn Korda Kroll, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Commissioner Kate D. Levin)
Photo Credit: Tamas Revesz

Nine of our ten Sister Cities: Beijing, Budapest, Cairo, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, London, Madrid, Rome, and Tokyo sent delegations including public officials responsible for public art, leaders in the public art field from the private sector and from local cultural institutions, and also artists with public art experience.

New York City participants represented the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Public Art Fund, Borough Art Councils, local museums, and various other city agencies with responsibility for public art.

The Summit explored the approaches and innovations some cities have developed to meet these challenges, and noted the range of issues facing New York City and our Sister cities. For all participants, the Summit provided an opportunity to share best practices and strategies for success.



The Gates, Project for Central Park
Photo Credit: Tamas Revesz

The Public Art Summit was timed to coincide with "The Gates, Project for Central Park, New York" exhibit. The Gates project, conceived and executed by internationally renowned artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, was a temporary art exhibit comprised of 7,500 gates - each 16 feet high, following the edges of 23 miles of footpaths in New York City's Central Park. Saffron colored fabric hung from the gates. 

On the first day, Summit participants were addressed by Commissioner Adrian Benepe, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Summit participants later toured The Gates with Central Park Conservancy Park Rangers. Then at the Central Park Boathouse, Deputy Mayor Patti E. Harris introduced Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The artists talked to the summit participants about their work and took questions.

An afternoon panel discussion (part 1 in 56k or 300k, part 2 in 56k or 300k) was held at the famous Tweed Courthouse.  Panelists represented New York City, Rome, and Tokyo, and were art commissioners, art critics, artists, and academics with experience in public art.



Photo Caption: Todd Jick, Summit Moderator, introduces members of panel discussion, “Public Art: Vision or Compromise?” Thursday, February 17, 2005, Tweed Courthouse
Photo Credit: UNCCP

An evening reception took place at Tweed Courthouse for the friends of the Sister City Program and Public Art Summit participants, hosted by Sister City President, Ambassador Nancy E. Soderberg, Commissioner Kate D. Levin, and Commissioner Marjorie B. Tiven.  Invited guests included representatives of the Mayor's Office, City Commissioners, NYC's public art community, donors to the Program, and diplomats from our ten Sister City countries.



Photo Caption: Ambassador Nancy E. Soderberg, President of the Sister City Program of the City of New York, Inc. welcomes guests to Tweed Courthouse for dinner in honor of the Public Art Summit.
Photo Credit: UNCCP

The second day of the Summit took place at PS1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City. It began with a New York City presentation on public art delivered by Charlotte Cohen, Director of Percent for Art, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Summit participants then divided themselves into break out sessions which were led by experts in the field of public art.  The workshops looked at processes for creating and sustaining a successful public art program in contemporary cities, including the selection, planning, sustainable funding, maintenance and public support for such a vision. 



Photo Caption: Workshop Discussion on “Selecting Public Art” with Beijing, London, Jerusalem, Tokyo, and New York delegates, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Friday, February 18, 2005
Photo Credit: Gabriela Benedek



Photo Caption: Workshop Discussion, Friday, February 18, 2005
Photo Credit: Gabriela Benedek

Prior to the Summit, all ten Sister Cities were asked to author a "white paper" for public distribution. The white paper is an opportunity for the Sister Cities to address the public art programs in their respective city, particularly examples of strengths, weaknesses, unique circumstances and innovations in public art policy. Each Sister City also gave PowerPoint presentations of the status of public art in their city.

Other highlights of the Summit included:

  • Welcome by Adrian Benepe, Commissioner for NYC Parks and Recreation, at the Gates, Project for Central Park;
  • Welcome by Patti Harris, Deputy Mayor for New York City, at the Central Park Boathouse;
  • Session in the Orozco Room, the New School University;
  • Publication and distribution of Sister City White Papers;
  • Tour of New York City Public Art - Commentary provided by Jonathan Kuhn of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation as the participants traveled from conference sites;
  • Formal dinner at Tweed Courthouse;
  • Closing lunch at the private dining room at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)'s newly opened restaurant, the Modern;
  • Welcome bag with copies of "PLOP- Recent Projects of the Public Art Fund," and a specially created CD-ROM of New York City public art images;
  • Welcome Banner displayed at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Terminal 4 to welcome delegates to this Summit.

The Public Art Summit is the fourth such Sister City meeting of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration. The Sister City Program hosted a summit on "Rebuilding International Tourism" in February 2003, one on "Meeting the Challenges of Terrorism and Crime" in October 2003, and one on "Transforming Government through Technology" in June 2004.

The Sister City Program of the City of New York is located in the office of the New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol. The Commission is the liaison between New York City and the diplomatic community, the United Nations, and the US Department of State.

The Sister City Program acknowledges the generous support of Deutsche Bank for this Summit.


  Summit Schedule
  Thursday, February 17, 2005 Panel Discussion Web Cast Part 1 in 56k or 300k, Part 2 in 56k or 300k
  NYC Slideshow of Public Art (PPT)
  NYC Public Art Resources
  AP Press
  Office of the Mayor Press Release
 
Conference Papers:
  Beijing
  Budapest
  Johannesburg
  London
  Madrid
  New York City
  Rome
  Tokyo
 

(in PDF)
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