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In Ann Arbor, public art money will be spent on sewers, roads

Ann Arbor Public Art Commission
City of Ann Arbor
"Radius," by Ed Carpenter, hangs in Ann Arbor's Justice Center. It's an example of the much-debated public arts project.

Ann Arbor's city council is sending almost $100,000 of public art money back to city services. 

Last year, they pulled the plug on a controversial plan called "Percent for Art." 

For five years, it set aside money from some new city construction projects and put it towards art installations.  

Now, council members are sending the leftover money back to city services, to pay for things like roads and sewers.  

They will hold onto enough money to wrap up a few art projects, and they're asking for a new plan for future public art. 

City council member Christopher Taylor says passionate critics and supporters have been debating the public art question for years in Ann arbor.

"We've gotten a lot of conversation about a program that is, in the grand scheme of things, very small," he says.

Taylor says the public art question is tied up in how Ann Arbor residents see their community, with its reputation for being a cultivated, creative college town.  

"You know for those folks, public art is obviously not the sole driver (of that reputation), naturally," says Taylor. "But it's an important element of it."

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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