City Hall File

The sun shines on Bozeman City Hall in this file photo from July 6.

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Bozeman city commissioners will review a proposal that would dedicate funding from some future city building projects to public art during their meeting Tuesday.

The proposed ordinance, called a municipal percent for art program, would set aside 1% of construction costs from some future city capital projects to be used for public art installations. The program would apply to projects at new or remodeled city-owned property with construction costs over $500,000, according to the draft ordinance, and would exclude certain projects like street construction or wastewater facilities.

The money would largely be used for public art installations on the project site, with some to be set aside for ongoing maintenance. According to the proposal, the city is hoping the program will create a city-owned collection of public art that will “improve the quality of life in the area, be accessible to all individuals, and be a source of pride to residents.”

Similar programs already exist in San Francisco, Seattle and Missoula, which established its percent for art program in 2002. Mayor Cyndy Andrus said percent for art programs have been proven to work in other cities.

The program, Andrus said, would help give local artists a financial incentive to create public art. She said public art not only adds vibrancy to a building, but can also make buildings more inviting.

“I believe that public art recognizes creativity in our community and it can enhance the identity and character of your community,” Andrus said.

“In my view this is a recognition that arts should be a part of the economic recovery conversation and that artists like many other businesses have a lot to contribute to the community.”

Under the ordinance, the city manager’s office would be in charge of setting up the process to select artists and artwork for different projects. The proposed ordinance states artists should be selected “as early in the conceptual design stage as practical,” to work with contractors from the beginning of the project.

It also notes the program should distribute commissions for projects to a wide number of artists and “strive for overall diversity in style, scale and intent.”

Katy Helgeson, president of Gallatin Art Crossing said creating a similar program in Bozeman is “a long time coming.”

“There’s so many nonprofits in Bozeman that are doing public art, and it’s a struggle to try to get funds just because everybody’s fighting for the same dollar,” Helgeson said. “This is just going to make everything easier but also allow everybody to grow.”

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Nora Shelly can be reached at or 406-582-2607.

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