From April 1-7, Public Art Week will be “Building a Better Community” in Jacksonville, Florida. Hosted by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, this event is “an annual, week-long initiative that celebrates Jacksonville’s public art and highlights the benefits that are created when investments are made in art that is accessible by all.”
With over 25 presenters and 25 events, this week is proving to be a strong show of support for the arts.
A panel moderated by Emily Peck (Vice President of Private Sector Initiatives, Americans for the Arts) featured Hugh Greene (president and CEO of Baptist Health), Audra Wallace (CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority), Steven Grossman (CEO of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority), and Alicia Somers (financial wellness director for Regions Bank). Each discussed the value of private sector support for the arts and its transformative power.
While it might not seem that a hospital, an airport, and a bank would have much in common, all of them use the arts to create vibrant spaces for their staff, patients, and clients. Baptist Hospitals have long displayed artwork at each location, but are currently in talks with representatives from the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, the Cummer Museum of Art & Garden, and a sculptor to consult for pieces to be displayed in the newest site. Likewise, the Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) has a permanent collection, two galleries, and eight cases. Grossman also shared that there will also be regular performances by members of the Jacksonville Symphony. Regions Bank works with Fogle Fine Art and Accessories to find works for display in each branch.
In addition to support from the private sector, Greene and others encouraged the local government to provide more funding for the arts. After a drastic cut in January, the city has much work ahead to continue and develop the arts. In a city that is struggling with the implications of existing public art (memorials and statues of controversial histories), using art to create vibrant spaces is a step forward.
Photos by Toni Smailagic of Cre8Jax, courtesy of Jacksonville Cultural Council.