CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad City Council got an update at its Dec. 16 meeting about efforts to enhance public spaces through public art that engages residents and visitors, helps celebrate the city’s identity and contributes to the overall quality of life in Carlsbad.
“Public art gives a community a sense of identity that sets it apart from every place else, and this public art master plan will help guide future projects by tying them into Carlsbad’s community values,” said Carlsbad Cultural Arts Manager Vincent Kitch. “Carlsbad is a unique place, and public art can help define who we are, where we are going and who we aspire to be.”
The Carlsbad Cultural Arts Office expects to submit the new public art master plan to the Carlsbad Arts Commission in six to eight months. After the commission reviews and approves the plan, it will be submitted to council for final approval.
The new master plan will replace the existing one, which has been in place since 1996. It will work in tandem with other city planning initiatives, such as the city of Carlsbad general plan. The public art master plan will outline priority projects and provide a framework of policies and procedures that will guide future art acquisitions, recommend policy changes to reflect the best practices in the public art field and propose strategies for implementing policy and identifying resources to acquire art.
The council saw examples of public art in cities throughout the country. Some included moving features and changing colors, interactive elements and art that brought people together to create it. According to Gail Goldman, an art consultant hired by the city to lead the master plan update, many successful public art projects sparked controversy at first, such as the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Over time, however, this monument was embraced by residents and became recognized as a symbol of elegance and strength worldwide.
Art can help community members form connections with one another and with the place they live, said Goldman. It can help celebrate the qualities that make Carlsbad different from other places and add to the civic vitality of the city.
The project team will gather input from community members and arts leaders, as well as incorporate the extensive public input gathered through Envision Carlsbad, a two year public outreach process led by the city. Through Envision Carlsbad, the city created the Carlsbad Community Vision, which is made up of nine core values the community said were important to the future of Carlsbad. Fostering arts and culture was among those nine values.
The Carlsbad Cultural Arts Office has undertaken significant public art projects in the past year, including the installation of Roger Stoller’s sculpture, “Coastal Helix,” at the new roundabout at Carlsbad Boulevard and State Street; the commissioning of new art for Fire Station No. 3, which is under construction in Robertson Ranch; and the placement of new artwork in the city’s Sculpture Garden at 2955 Elmwood St., immediately north of the city’s Cole Library. These projects are part of the city’s Art in Public Places program.