Art Committee In Talks for Naperville

Art Committee
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A panel tasked with ironing out a proposal to create a Naperville art committee as a spin off to the work of the Naperville Special Events Cultural Amenities (SECA) Commission is one step closer to making it happen. At their September 27 meeting, officials firmed up a plan to present to Naperville City Council.

What’s the plan?

The art committee, if created, will oversee the administration of the city’s art curation process. The new committee would be responsible for issuing an annual call for projects and responding to requests throughout the year, as needed.

The panel would be made up of 11 members, with each serving staggered two-year terms. Their focus would be helping the city to acquire and maintain more visual art that is representative of the community.

Why Now?

Public art has long been a hot topic in Naperville. Among the most visible figures of the city’s art scene is Brand Bobosky, the president of Century Walk, a local arts organization whose efforts came under fire last year for lacking diversity in representation.

Some panel members envision the art committee being similar to the SECA Commission and how it dispenses grant funding to specific qualifying groups. City staff is in the middle of studying if the panel is best suited as a city-backed group or a nonprofit organization.

Potential Problems Discussed

Member Debbie Venezia questioned if creating an art committee would lead to tension between groups interested in securing grant funding.

“We may get pushback from arts organizations because they’re going to see that SECA has a hand in both committees,” Venezia said. “They may not feel that they can penetrate both walls to get the funding they deserve.”

Member Shannon Greene Robb chimed in, saying the art committee would be viewed as a support to art organizations, not as an agent driving competition.

Several members expressed optimism that the panel is on the right track with its pitch. But not everyone agreed that the time is now to present the city council with the art committee proposal.

Bobosky said he believes the panel is rushing the matter. “I think it’s too hasty to make any kind of recommendation to the city council when this SECA-inspired committee that’s been working since February of 2020, almost a year-and-a half at least, has gotten this far in five meetings,” Bobosky said.

Moving Forward

Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan, who is the liaison between the city council and SECA Commission, urged the group to offer more clarity to the council about what the art committee wants from the city.

“I think that would just help again make a decision that sticks, makes people excited about it if council members know what they can expect from the committee … and then, what the committee would expect from council or from staff just so that everyone is on the same page about our commitments to each other,” Sullivan said.

The SECA Commission is expected to make its pitch to members of the city council at their October 19th meeting.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead.

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