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Rochester takes next steps in public arts initiative

James Brown

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans and other city officials and members of the local arts community announced next steps this week in a public arts initiative.

It involves the city’s Percent for the Arts program. Evans said his administration will set aside 1% of the total development costs of the city's qualifying infrastructure projects to help fund public art in the community.

The city administration said for the 2021-22 fiscal year, the city allocated $236,000 toward the program, and they are earmarking that same amount in the 2022-23 fiscal year.

And the mayor noted that the city is also pursuing up to one million dollars in funding from the Bloomberg Public Arts Challenge, for a project that would center about healing trauma through public art.

“We know many of our youth experienced trauma, and engaging them in artistic and spread expression and helping them overcome these bad experiences is a powerful way to leverage this opportunity,” said Evans. “But we need partners to be successful in the second round.”

Thomas Warfield, the local singer, actor and dancer, is one of the co-chairs of the city’s Arts and Creative Community Committee.

He said that public art is vital because it really contributes to a community’s identity.

“We as a community must continue to encourage to nurture and support the art and artists and the future art and artists continually, always,” noted Warfield. “It is not impractical. It is not frivolous; it is a responsibility.”

Next month, city officials plan to announce a ‘call for art’ for its ArtsBloom project, which will see $100,000 invested for arts education as well as performance and temporary art.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.