Tuesday, July 24, 2018

UrbanArt Creates New Equitability-Centered Strategic Plan

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2018 at 3:25 PM

click to enlarge Lauren Kennedy, executive director of the UrbanArt Commission
  • Lauren Kennedy, executive director of the UrbanArt Commission

The UrbanArt Commission (UAC) presented an equity-centered strategic plan for the next five years to the Memphis City Council Tuesday.

Taking into consideration conversations with the council and the community, Lauren Kennedy, executive director of the UAC, said the art commission has developed a new mission statement with people at the center, unlike the former version. Kennedy said it’s important for the mission to “lift up” artists and residents as the two key stakeholder groups.

“How we elevate equity across our entire body of work is really what drove this document,” Kennedy said of the new strategic plan. “For us, that means that we are thinking about how we support artists and especially Memphis artists with this plan.”

Kennedy said currently there is only a small group of Memphis-based artists with an extensive portfolio who are actively pursuing public art projects work. This speaks to the need of the commission, she said.

One of the three key goals of the UAC moving forward is to provide increased public art opportunities for Memphis artists.

The goal of the commission moving forward will be for those artists to be supported in their work, while being able to further their artistic work in the city, Kennedy said.

The UAC will work to offer opportunities over the next couple of years for local artists to workshop ideas and give feedback on the current public art selection and implementation process.

The second goal is to increase visibility and connections to public art in various neighborhoods across the city, while allowing residents of those areas to be more involved and give greater input about projects in their neighborhoods.

The last goal is to expand the scope of projects done in the city. Kennedy said this means commissioning other types of projects beyond sculptures and murals. Expanding the scope also means distributing projects “equitably” around the city, by focusing on putting projects in certain neighborhoods that have gotten less attention in the past.

Another piece of the strategic plan was to craft a set of standards related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and figure out how those values should be applied to the UAC’s work.

One of the biggest priorities over the next year, Kennedy said, is to create a system to track measurements against the goals and standards.

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