The program, known as OPAL, or Outdoor Public Art on Loan, is the latest project from the city’s Main Street Department and the Downtown Tyler Arts Coalition. Plans call for six large works of art to go on display in the downtown area for about one year, Beverly Abell, department leader of the Tyler Main Street Program, told city council members Wednesday at their regular meeting.
The works will be changed after being on display for a year, she said.
“This will give local artists some exposure,” Ms. Abell told council.
The sites for the art, which will be funded through private donations and grants, will be chosen by a citizen committee, Ms. Abell said. Her goal is to open the outdoor display on Oct. 4 in time for this year’s Texas Rose Festival. The sculptures would remain on display through July or August 2014.
The city received an initial $7,000 grant from the Retail Merchants of Tyler via the East Texas Communities Foundation to help fund the planned outdoor sculptures, Ms. Abell said.
Mayor Barbara Bass and several council members expressed excitement at Wednesday’s meeting at the prospect of the outdoor art.
“Our hope is that we can keep one sculpture for the gallery,” Ms. Abell said, referring to the city’s art gallery, Gallery Main Street at 110 W. Erwin St.
She expects requests for proposals for the sculptures to go out soon to artists and the different art websites and the city’s website. Artists will submit photos of their work digitally, Ms. Abell said.
Art in public spaces can contribute to a city’s economic bottom line by driving tourists to cities with art and arts activities, according to information received from Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit organization.
The organization is a “nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.”
Although the figures are from a 2001 survey, the Travel Industry Association of America found that 65 percent of adult American travelers say they included cultural, arts, heritage, or a historic event on a trip away from home, one way, of 50 miles or more in the year 2000. The information appears on the Project for Public Spaces website.
Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle said one week ago that the city purchased a new radio system for police use in 2009, including hand-held radios for each officer and each car at a cost of $2.1 million from Motorola. The city owes $1.42 million to Motorola at an interest rate of 4.12 percent.
They did not replace the consoles for emergency dispatchers at that time, he said, because there was no need. The consoles, which date from 2002, now need to be replaced because Motorola no longer offers the necessary support to repair and maintain them, Swindle said.
The cost for the consoles is expected to be $437,000. The plan is to refinance the amount of the new console cost and the $1.42 million still owed for the radios at a reduced interest rate. The purchase of two fire ladder trucks and one fire engine truck at a cost of $2.5 million are included in that $4.5 million capital improvements lease.
For more information on Gallery Main Street, go to www.downtowntylerarts.com or call 903-593-6905.