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Sun, July 21

Avoiding controversy, council looks at 'conservative' policy on public art

Unlike Prescott, the Town of Prescott Valley has not encountered any controversies involving public art in recent memory.

The town's Arts and Culture Commission has proposed policies and procedures to make any controversy even less likely, and the Town Council discussed them Thursday.

Those policies, if adopted by the council, would apply to artwork displays in the library and Civic Center building. Any displays would have to pass muster from the Arts and Culture Commission, an advisory body to the council.

Commission members met with the library board and town staff, Parks and Recreation Director Brian Witty told the council.

Vice Mayor Don Tjiema praised the proposed policies for offering "conservative guidelines." The policies state a number of requirements that include art:

• Not be obscene, pornographic or inappropriate for minors.

• Not violate the Establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

• Not be defamatory.

• Not "tend to incite or produce any imminent lawless act or disrupt the orderly operation" of the buildings.

• Not be "integral to criminal conduct" or violate other laws.

• Not infringe on intellectual property.

• Not invade privacy.

Under the policies, applicants for artwork must submit photos, Commissioner Nancy Smith said after the meeting.

Smith and Witty said that public art has not been controversial during the five years she has served on the panel and Witty has been on the job.

By contrast, rhetorical battles raged a year ago in Prescott over a mural at Miller Valley Elementary School, a park bench (later removed) at Granite Mountain Park and a nixed proposal for an illustrated timeline around City Hall.

Those battles pitted city officials against artists and their supporters in Prescott.

The discussion of public art took place Thursday during a work/study meeting, where the council took no action. Councilwoman Patty Lasker did not attend the meeting.

The council also heard a presentation from Public Works Director Norm Davis on plans for the third phase of the Western Boulevard storm-water management improvement project. The project will involve routing storm runoff through pipes.

The council also heard a request from Utilities Director Neil Wadsworth to buy a combination sewer cleaner, and heard a talk from Human Resources Director Karen Reed regarding a supplemental benefit plan to cover workers' compensation.

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