Salisbury working to develop more public art spaces

By Liz Holland
Posted 4/6/22

Salisbury will soon begin a planning process to help steer how and where public art develops in the city – part of a goal by Mayor Jake Day to ramp up cultural events.

The process is not …

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Salisbury working to develop more public art spaces


Salisbury will soon begin a planning process to help steer how and where public art develops in the city – part of a goal by Mayor Jake Day to ramp up cultural events.

The process is not one that can be done by the city alone, Day said during a March 29 public input session that drew a crowd of artists, arts administrators, local business owners and city officials.

“Government cannot do community,” he said. “I look around this room and there are many hands, and obviously, that’s what it’s going to take to do light work.”

The planning process in Salisbury will be similar to ones undertaken in other cities and towns all over Maryland, said Todd Bressi, a public art master plan consultant hired by the city.

“Everyone really wants to think about how art can help move their community forward,” Bressi said.

Participants who gathered for the event at the Revival theater space in the City Center last Tuesday were asked to think about how art is created by the community, how public art can connect and reflect their communities and how public art can benefit Salisbury.

They also were asked how to expand Salisbury’s art scene. Among the ideas offered were: 

  •         Sculpture to reflect the city’s Kindness USA designation.
  •         Artwork that includes the great blue heron, the “city bird.”
  •         Installation art, such as a light show, to draw people Downtown.
  •         Highlight local culinary arts with a beer garden, featuring local restaurants and moving the farmers market Downtown.
  •         Promote performing arts with music, dance and theater.
  •         Include more murals throughout the city.
  •         Add more exhibit spaces.


Bressi said no two cities are the same in how they approach public art planning. “It’s like starting fresh everywhere,” he said.

The event last week was mostly a listening session, but Bressi will be back in June to spend time talking one-on-one with artists and others in the community. By fall, a master plan will begin to take shape, outlining long-term goals as well as “achievable things we can do now,” he said.

The entire process should take nine months, said Jamie Heater, Executive Director of the Salisbury Arts & Entertainment District.

The master plan will be carried out by the city’s new Arts, Business & Culture Department which was formed to promote the local business climate and stimulate cultural activities.

The department incorporates the Business Development Department and all of the contracts it oversees, including the Arts and Entertainment District and events, and the National Folk Festival.

Additionally, the department oversees the Salisbury Zoo, Poplar Hill Mansion, the Riverwalk and the Salisbury Marina.

In recent years, events such as 3rd Friday, summer concerts at the amphitheater, the Downtown Salisbury Festival and the National Folk Festival, have all drawn crowds to the city’s Downtown, and Day has said wants to see more.

The mayor’s goal is not just to attract tourists to Salisbury, but also provide outlets for residents. That will become even more important as numerous new developments get under way under the city’s Here Is Home program, an incentive that has resulted in 8,094 units of single-family houses, townhouses, duplexes, apartments and assisted living on the drawing board, with some already under construction.

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