Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bremerton's Fish Statues

Considering both the financial situation of our state and the City of Bremerton, I was certainly surprised to see the Bremerton City Council approve spending $250,000 of state money on the installation of some statues of fish and fisherman on Pacific Avenue. Ostensibly, these statues are going to bring tourists downtown.

What I have a serious issue with is the statues being designed by a Colorado firm — and built by a company in Mukilteo. Don’t we have artists right here in Kitsap County who are capable of doing this? It’s not often that any city has an opportunity to spend that kind of money on art, but when they do, shouldn’t they focus on spending it with local artists?

Personally, I believe all five of the Bremerton City Council members who voted to spend that money outside of Kitsap County — Nick Wofford, Will Maupin, Brad Gehring, Carol Arends, and Adam Brockus — owe the local arts community an apology. And while I doubt the ability of a fish statue to make serious inroads for tourism, I do think the Council should rescind its approval of this project as presented and insist the money be spent locally as a condition of acceptance.

And what’s the matter with our local artists? Why aren’t they showing up at Bremerton City Council meetings en masse and loudly protesting the Council’s blatant disrespect for their abilities and talent? Is it any wonder the Council doesn’t think twice about bypassing them?

I really like and appreciate public art. But if the One Percent For The Arts program can’t be managed any more effectively than spending our money out of state, while local artists won’t take any more action than whining about it to each other, than the program should be abandoned altogether. Considering the state’s $2.8 billion (and growing daily) budget shortfall, there are certainly better uses for that money than improving the bottom line of some company in Colorado.

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