Discussion of the city’s “Plan for Public Art” took center stage at the latest meeting of the Shelbyville Common Council.
And the debate centered on public versus private airing of differences among City Council members.
The Plan for Public Art, finished last October, was created by the city and the Blue River Community Foundation. A goal of the plan is to, “include public art in community development initiatives.”
In addition, the plan outlines eight public art projects, the largest of which is a $150,000 sculpture to be placed near the Porter Center, 501 N. Harrison St., this year.
Models of the proposed sculpture are on display now at City Hall, 44 W. Washington St., where a reception, open to the public to discuss the submissions, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 22.
But at issue before the City Council on Monday evening was whether to include the Plan for Public Art in the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which is a roadmap to guide future development in the community.
Councilman Brad Ridgeway (R - 4th Ward) challenged the proposal saying, while he was not against public art, the plan was not detailed enough to include in the Comprehensive Plan.
“What I’m afraid of is, this is policy; it’s a mandate,” he said.
Ridgeway stated the art plan needs to be more detailed and financially sound. “There’s no funding mechanism here,” he added.
Amy Haacker, executive director of the Blue River Community Foundation, noted that the art plan does state that pursuing federal and state grants are options.
The strongest disagreement came from Councilmen Brian Asher (R - At Large) and David Phares (R - At Large), who said Ridgeway could have discussed his concerns privately before the council meeting.
“It’s the 11th hour and we’re sitting here,” Asher said, and Phares criticized Ridgeway for taking the council’s time during the meeting.
Ridgeway replied that debate on the issue should be done in an open forum.
“The public has a right to know our private conversations,” he said.
Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun said he didn’t believe that Asher was advocating any type of “back door deal.”
“I just think we could have avoided all this if we’d worked together to create this policy,” the mayor said.
DeBaun added he thought there would be some amendments to the Plan for Public Art assuming the council approved it.
And the City Council did approve adding the art proposal to the city’s Comprehensive Plan in a 6-to-1 vote, with Ridgeway casting the no vote.