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Raleigh council creates new policy for public artwork

Posted December 12, 2014

— Raleigh has a reputation for being a vibrant arts community, and city leaders are hoping some new guidelines will help creative people realize their ideas when creating artwork on public property.

The discussion started after volunteers knitted sweaters, hung them on trees and then turned them into blankets for the homeless last January. The trees were in a public right-of-way, and organizers had to get approval from the city council.

City council members approved the project but wanted the Raleigh Arts Commission to come up with clearer rules for neighborhood art on public property.

“It took all of us a little by surprise,” said Jerry Bolas, executive director of the arts commission.

The tree sweater project was an example of a temporary installation the arts commission could approve. For a more permanent project, like the Raleigh Police Memorial, the Public Arts and Design Board would have to give approval.

“The spirit is to encourage and enable public art in a public realm,” Bolas said.

This season, the knitters created scarves to wrap around several trees on private property on Glenwood Avenue. Organizer Donna Belt says she's glad the city is making the rules for public property clear for Raleigh's creative community.

“It's a perfect way to build the momentum of what Raleigh is doing now and will continue to grow into the future,” she said.

Belt says she's working on another project that would bring art to crosswalks in the Glenwood South neighborhood. She's working with the city to get approval.


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