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Cortez City Council approves public art advisory committee

Board to oversee public art projects

On Tuesday, the Cortez City Council gave final approval to the creation of a public art advisory committee.

The committee has been in the works since March, when several local artists signed a petition asking the city to change the way it handles public art commissions. The new advisory committee will be led by library director Eric Ikenouye. An ordinance that would create the committee has come before the council in previous meetings, and the board voted to approve the final reading during one of several public hearings, a decision that was met by applause from the meeting’s few attendees.

According to the ordinance, the committee will have seven members, including one youth representative, who will meet publicly once a month to make recommendations to the City Council about the planning, installation and maintenance of public art projects. Committee members will also promote public art through events and fundraising programs. One of the complaints that artists brought before the council earlier this year was that they were not being paid for their work when it was displayed on city-owned property. Petition leader Sonja Horoshko said one of the reasons the city needed a committee was to set up a way to pay for public art.

Like the city’s other advisory committees, all the public art committee’s decisions will be subject to final approval by the council.

During the public comment section of the hearing, Horoshko read a prepared statement in support of the decision. She thanked several people who helped with the committee’s creation, such as the city’s grants and special projects administrator, Chris Burkett.

“The City Council is making a transformative decision by supporting the proposed professional public arts advisory committee,” she said. “It gives credence to the importance of audience development as well as respect for the arts and artists.”

She also read a statement by Brandon Shubert, owner of Stonefish Sushi, in which he called the committee “an opportunity to elevate public arts” and improve the city’s business practices when it comes to dealing with artists.

The council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance, with Mayor Pro Tem Ty Keel and council member Jill Carlson absent. Ikenouye said the committee’s first order of business will be to get the board member applicants approved through the council. Several people, including Horoshko, have expressed interest in serving on the committee, and Ikenouye said he has notified teachers in the Montezuma-Cortez school district that they’ll be looking for a youth member. He said there are several possible public art projects for them to work on in the coming months, but their highest priority will be to organize the process of displaying art in City Hall.

“We’re excited to get going and get this committee moving forward,” Ikenouye said.

Other action

During Tuesday’s meeting, the council also:

Approved the final plat of a subdivision on the Montezuma County Public Facilities planned development near the intersection of Empire Street and Mildred Road.Approved a conditional use permit to install 12 new Verizon Wireless cellular antennas on the roof of 2212 E. Main St. Approved a site development plan and an amended plat for a proposed expansion of the Maverik gas station at 455 S. State St.Passed a resolution authorizing the city to apply for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant that would allow it to purchase the old Montezuma-Cortez High School property.Approved the transfer of a liquor license from Nero’s Restaurant to Mirch Masala, a new restaurant that is set to open in the same building in November.Awarded a $1,285,000 bid to FCI Constructors, Inc., to replace the Cortez Recreation Center’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.Passed a resolution asking the Colorado General Assembly to reauthorize the Colorado lottery division to fund Great Outdoors Colorado and other grant funds in 2018.

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