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St. Paul city departments to get input from more artists-in-residence, thanks to ArtPlace award

St. Paul will have two more artists-in-residence working with city departments on planning for public spaces, thanks to a $300,000 grant from ArtPlace.

Since 2005 the city has gotten input from artist-in-residence Marcus Young through an arrangement with Public Art St. Paul. He’s been involved with city staff in planning for art components in the Greater Lowertown Plan and worked with officials on the Union Depot renovation.

Perhaps the best-known project is the sidewalk poetry contest. More than 450 poems written by local authors have been imprinted in the concrete on city sidewalks since 2008.

With the new grant money and other funding, Public Art St. Paul will hire two more artists to work half-time each in the program. They’ll work with engineers, landscape artists and other planners in a host of city projects.

“Until now this has been a one-person program, but now we’ll have a cohort,” said Christine Podas-Larson, president of Public Art St. Paul. “It will be like a resident theater company — multiple city artists working together.”

Podas-Larson called the City Artists in Residence program “a grand experiment in what can happen when artists are thoughtfully integrated into the complex and life-sustaining process of city making.”

She said there is solid ongoing funding to support the program over the next five years.

Mayor Chris Coleman is excited:

“After six years of successful development of the CAIR [City Artists-in-Residence] Program, we are ready to take a significant new step in advancing how public art is effectively envisioned, created, delivered, and sustained. This collaboration between Public Art Saint Paul and the City adds to the flourishing of civic life by enacting a new vision for an expressive city.”

The artists will work out of the St. Paul Public Works Department but also be involved in planning done by the city Planning and Parks departments. And they’ll work with the Capitol Region and Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed Districts that serve St. Paul.

The Public Art St. Paul grant is one of 47 projects in 33 communities that got money from this round of grants made by ArtPlace, which is a collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, to accelerate creative place-making across the U.S.

More than 2,000 organizations were interested in getting a piece of the group’s $15.4 million available for grants in this cycle.

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