ART OF COMMUNITY BUILDING: EDMOND

This case study is part of a series investigating the variety of ways that Oklahoma communities invest municipal resources and funding in the arts. These stories illustrate how these investments, big or small, can have a positive impact on citizens, civic pride, tourism, and the general well being of a place.

Community Profile
City Budget (2015-16): $394,120,652
2014 Census Data
Population: 90,092
Median household income: $71,825
Persons in poverty (% of total residents): 10.4%
High School graduate or higher (age 25+): 95.9%
Bachelor’s degree or higher (age 25+): 51.9%
From Local Arts Index
State Arts Agency Grants per county capita (2003-2009): $12.27
Total nonprofit arts organizations per 100,000 county population (2012): 15.76

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The city of Edmond’s public art collection is a testament to the power of public investment in the arts and an incentive for arts advocates to get serious about electing pro-arts candidates to municipal office.

Over the last two decades, elected officials in Edmond have intentionally built public art funds into the city’s budget. Mayors, notably Randel Shadid, and City Councilmembers have worked together to build the infrastructure that has resulted in a public art collection of over 150 pieces valued at over $3.5 million.

Two programs, implemented in 2002, make up the backbone of this infrastructure. The first is a public/private matching program. $100,000 of the city’s General Fund (from sales tax contributions) is annually set aside for public art. The money cannot be spent unless there are private monies to match, but the city has not has any trouble finding matching money each year. And the amount and quality of art the city has been able to purchase has dramatically increased by this partnership.

The second program is a 1% program. Since 2002, 1% of every public works project with a budget over $250,000 has been designated for a piece of art at the site of the project. Major pieces like On the Edge, by Clay Enoch, have been purchased as part of this program.

On the Edge, Clay Enoch, Photo courtesy of the City of Edmond                               Located outside Edmond’s newest swimming pool, a collaborative public works project between the City, Edmond Public Schools, and the YMCA

In addition to budgeting, marketing has been essential to Edmond’s investment in the arts. The city has officially designated a 1.5 mile segment of Boulevard St. BOULEVART, complete with street signs, in an effort to highlight that each block along that stretch has at least one piece of public art. This designation was proposed by The Visual Arts Commission and approved by the City Council.

The city has also produced brochures and an online interactive map for this part of downtown Edmond, making it much more visible, and making it easier for residents and visitors to engage with the extensive collection. Beginning in 2016, the city also started offering guided tours of the downtown collection.

All this work by the city to build its visual art collection and to make it more visible and accessible is the result of municipal officials who understand that the arts are integral to a sense of place.

“Public art raises the aesthetic of the community and interest in the community,” said former mayor Randel Shadid. And such interest in a community is important for both social and economic wellbeing.

Having dedicated arts champions in office has been key to the success of Edmond’s public art program. Voting pro-arts candidates into office, whether the Mayor’s office or the City Council, can have monumental positive effects in a community.