Does COS Need a Public Art Coordinator?

Photo Credit: Dave Granlund,

During the April 11th Colorado Springs City Council Work Session, Council members discussed the addition of a newly created Colorado Springs Public Art Coordinator position. The position would be funded by you, the overburdened taxpayer. Like the job of Colorado Springs Senior Bike Planner, this sounds like another made up, unneeded position. 

What’s the motivation to create this position? 

Presenter Sandy Friedman, Chair for the Public Arts Commission (PAC), stated that the Public Art coordinator position is an economic position for the area. Upon our examination of that statement, and the data provided in the presentation, we don’t think Mr. Friedman should be making such bold claims. 

The PAC was established in 1982 by the City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County, and is charged with acting in an advisory capacity to, “evaluate, advocate, stimulate and facilitate matters of public art and culture.” Councilwoman Nancy Henjum is a liaison to the Commission.

Friedman offered his opinion, saying it’s “bizarre” that Pueblo and Colorado Springs don’t have a position for City Public Art Coordinator. Funny, we think it’s bizarre that every other city has taxpayers paying for such a thing! 

In his presentation, Friedman cited the Arts and Economics Prosperity 5 study (AEP5) that claims non-profit arts generate $166.3 billion per year of national economic activity. Here’s the local AEP5 study for the Pikes Peak Region. Friedman stated that economic development and art are hand in glove. 

Friedman went on to share his disappointment that an airline recently offered to donate a public art project to the city, but without a Public Art Coordinator the whole project fell through the cracks and didn’t move forward. He said the project would have supported tourism and economic improvement directly. 

After reviewing the study, we’re not at all convinced that taxpayers should fund the Public Art Coordinator position. He or she would oversee the city’s 111 public art installations and oversee art programs. No one is going to charge admission to see a city owned sculpture, so how could its impact on tourism and economic improvement be measured? 

Friedman said he sought out private funding for the Public Art Coordinator position prior to bringing it to City Council. Developers, community leaders, private individuals, and foundations would not provide the funds, and felt that the position should be city funded instead. 

You don’t say! 

Also, these private business folks recommended that the Public Art Coordinator be a full-time position. Friedman said he tried to raise money to fund the job, but fell short of the goal. This position is important to the economy, but it’s not valuable enough for the private sector to pony up the money to pay the salary? We’re not buying it. This sounds like another instance where the taxpayers will be fleeced, as city government continues to grow.

What happens next?

According to Sam Friedman, Colorado Springs Constituent Outreach Coordinator: 

Since City Council has received that recommendation, the first step would be to see if the Mayor chooses to include funding for this as part of his 2023 budget proposal to the Council. This is transmitted to the Council and the community on the first Monday of October per the City Charter. 

If the Mayor were to include this in his proposal, Council could accept that, or they could remove it depending on the body’s preference. If the Mayor were to not include this in his proposal, Council could accept that as well, or potentially add it to the budget depending on the body’s preference. In either scenario, this would be part of the City’s larger budget process that occurs in the fall and I think you’re fairly familiar with that process.

Contact Mayor John Suthers and City Council members and let them know this proposed job is completely unnecessary. We have bigger things to worry about, as a city. Most taxpayers don’t see this as a priority. Use the funds to fix our roads instead. Pothole free roads would be a real work of art!

Mayor John Suthers

Yolanda Avila

Dave Donelson

Stephannie Fortune

Randy Helms

Nancy Henjum

Bill Murray

Mike O’Malley

Tom Strand

Wayne Williams

4 thoughts on “Does COS Need a Public Art Coordinator?

  1. Omg no. We have Pikes Peak and the beautiful sight of the mountains against the sky (if city planning would stop trying to obscure it with vertical sprawl). The “public art” just looks like so much clutter in comparison. Get rid of it and concentrate on preserving wildlife corridors and green spaces so the deer are not forced to cross busy roads to forage.

  2. Might be more effective to encourage all concerned with this excessive nonsense is to do their retail spending outside city limits.

  3. Are Sam and Sandy related? The city art this year is plain insulting. A photo printed on vinyl is art. Anyone with a cell can do that, probably better.

  4. As a past volunteer member of the public art commissioin with 12 years and as the previous chair, we do need a public art coordinator but NOT on the city payroll. This could easily be a charge for the art commission, besides their advisory one. The public art master plan cost $50,000 was paid for by private donations. Downtown partnership and the cultural office have really been doing similar roles. There are professionals on the art commission this would easily be within their scope of expertise.

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