Robert and I are happily back in discussions with the City of St. Petersburg about the Central Avenue Art-In-Transit project. Many people, including many involved in Central Avenue itself, have expressed to us how pleased they are that the City has endorsed our ability to do this project. We, of course, have always seen this project in a special light: it is in our hometown.
Still there is work to be done before we can start. In all art projects, even with a gallery show, there is a contract to be signed. Contracts with public entities such as cities and states are typically more complex and demanding than contracts with museums or private and corporate entities. Tax payers’ money (our money) is involved and needs to be protected. We all get that. Our job, in contract negotiations, is to protect our interests and to make sure we don’t end up having to dig into our personal funds to complete the project or open ourselves up to any type of lawsuit. Too many artists have lost significant money on projects.
Also artists have to make sure that their work is preserved, maintained, and not altered. Artists have to ensure that they retain the rights to their art. Museums recognize this but public and corporate institutions are doing so less and less. For example, I have heard that some artists that were chosen for the new Tampa Airport renovation have backed out because they were unwilling to give up their rights to their work. It is imperative that we find a better compromise on this issue to ensure that we get the best art in our public spaces.
At this point, we are reviewing with the City (with Wayne Atherholt and India Williams) how to approach this project and the contract parameters. Our conversations are going well, and we all are optimistic that we shall come to some agreement.
Involved in this process is the Central Avenue Council (CAC). This is a City recognized group of representatives from the seven business districts along Central Avenue from the East to the West. CAC is a body of dynamic and involved citizens and business owners who have been supportive of our project. They are most keen on the visual unification of Central Avenue that also recognizes the individual nature of the districts.
Robert and I have been Central Avenue focused for a long time. We are now re-embarkingon our research and pursuing lots of ideas for how to make this project work. We are happy to be back. We are Central.