Wednesday, May 15, 2013
A movement to get Pittsburgh to enforce a 36-year-old city law requiring that public construction projects set aside “1 percent for art” holds its first big press conference and rally Downtown, on Friday afternoon.
The Pittsburgh Percent 4 Art Campaign assembles artists, students and others at 1 p.m. at Katz Plaza — home of artist Louise Bourgeois’ landmark “eyeball” sculptures.
Organizer Carolyn Speranza says the group is calling on candidates for mayor and city council to support public art by enforcing the law, passed in 1977 but essentially ignored since. The law requires that 1 percent of the cost of publicly funded construction and renovation projects of more than $50,000 be set aside for public art.
The campaign dates to February, when Speranza and another local artist posted an online petition calling for the law’s enforcement. The petition has garnered about 1,000 signatures so far.
The city (and the county, which has a similar, if newer, ordinance) acknowledges that the law goes unenforced. But the city’s public-art manager has said the law is so poorly written as to be unenforceable. And he adds there might be better ways to achieve the same goal.
But proponents of the law insist that other cities with such laws do enforce them, to the betterment of their communities, economies and quality of life.
Scheduled speakers at Friday’s one-hour press conference include artist and activist Speranza; artist and photographer Kat Gregor; community organizer Brian Brown, of the Hill District Consensus Group; Roxanne Williams of the League of Young Voters; Marvin Williams, owner of 3 Lions Construction; and 3 Lions apprentice Lee Salihl.
Katz Plaza is located at Seventh and Penn avenues, Downtown.