A plan that will guide how and where Salisbury places public art, as well as the type of artwork that should be prioritized, is starting to take shape after months of input gathered at community meetings and surveys.
“A public art plan for any community has to really reflect the people in that place,” said Todd Bressi, a public art master plan consultant hired by the city, during the latest community conversation last week.
The planning process launched in March, followed by open-mic input sessions in June and August, meeting with residents during 3rd Friday and an online survey.
There have been 150 responses to the survey which is still active on the city’s website. The main themes that emerged show that residents think Salisbury is an evolving city that is changing for the better. It also is a friendly community with a strong relationship to the water, Bressi said.
“People are excited about what’s going to happen next,” he said.
The survey participants showed a strong interest in murals, but practically none in technology-based work or temporary displays. The bulk of those who took the survey are over 40 years old, but Bressi said he also gathered input from younger people during 3rd Friday.
The survey is still open at surveymonkey.com/r/SBYPublicArt.
Once completed, 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 Third 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 Mayor Jake Day has said he 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.
The finished plan is expected to be presented to the City Council for final approval in the coming months.