The city of Wichita is looking at a proposal to include funding for public art as a part of city projects for streets, buildings and other public facilities.

The city has included art in street and building projects, but there is no firm process or funding mechanism for public art.   City council members had a workshop discussion this week on a proposal to dedicate one percent of the city’s capital improvement budget for public art.

Local artist Elizabeth Stevenson said public art makes people want to live in Wichita and creates an attachment and cultural identity for the community.   She said it’s important to use public art to make the community stronger.   John D’Angelo, manager of the city’s Division of Arts and Cultural Services, said there are public art programs in about 350 communities across the U.S. and they are administered through a city’s capital program.

Mayor Jeff Longwell says art is being incorporated into the design elements for city projects, such as a road, bridge or building.  He said he doesn’t want the city to fall into a pattern of just adding one percent into the cost of a project and calling it public art.  He wants to make sure it’s part of “the functionality of whatever we’re building.”   He thinks a process to include art will improve the way the city does public projects over the next 25 years.

City council member James Clendenin sees the proposal as a way to provide accountability and transparency to the public on city projects.

More details will be worked out and a proposal will go to the city council later this year for a decision.