Public Art NEXT! San Jose’s New Public Art Master Plan;
Downtown NEXT! Public Art Plan
Client: San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs
Date Completed: March 2008
Location: San Jose, California
Partners: Todd W. Bressi, Brown and Keener Bressi
Via teamed with Todd W. Bressi to develop a public art master plan for the highly regarded City of San Jose Public Art Program. Public Art NEXT!, San Jose’s New Public Art Master Plan addresses funding, procedural and programmatic challenges identified by the City and community. Following the success of that plan, the Via-Bressi team continued working with the City to develop a public art ‘focus plan’ for downtown San Jose. Downtown NEXT! recommends projects that add to downtown’s visual identity and character.
Public Art NEXT! San Jose’s New Public Art Master Plan
The City of San Jose, California has one of the nation’s most highly regarded public art programs. But after 20 years of commissioning works, the program was facing challenges. How could it react to severe decreases in the City’s capital budget, its primary source of project funding? How could it address a community and artist selection process that had become cumbersome, confusing and did not best utilize the assets of project stakeholders? How could it develop a new generation of artworks relevant to the City’s position as the capital of Silicon Valley?
Via, teamed with Todd. W. Bressi of Brown and Keener Bressi, worked with City staff and community stakeholders to build support for a new approach to public art. The plan, Public Art NEXT! San Jose’s New Public Art Plan, established two clear principles – public art should be located where it matter most to the visual character of the City; and all public facilities, no matter who builds of funds them, should have public art. The planning process also established new tools for the program. Now, public art funds are derived from a broad swath of the capital budget as well as from redevelopment area private taxing districts that build community infrastructure, and public art project funds can be pooled and directed to places where art will have a strong impact. A new artist selection process establishes clear roles for community and City agency stakeholders, as well as the role of professional, artistic expertise.
Downtown NEXT! A Public Art Focus Plan for Downtown San Jose
Public Art NEXT! also calls for the creation of public art “focus plans” for areas of the City of specific departments, so art can be commissioned in a creative, innovative manner. After the adoption of Public Art NEXT!, Via once again teamed with Bressi to work with the City on a focus plan for downtown.
Downtown NEXT! is a coordinated, multi-year strategy for commissioning public artworks based on the premise that all resources for public art downtown will be put into a pool, and artworks will be commissioned according to the visual and urban design priorities outlined in the plan. The plan outlines a comprehensive strategy for permanent and temporary public art interventions that, as a group, add to downtown’s visual identity and vividness. It includes locations for major “city image” projects, as well as opportunities for smaller-scale, pedestrian oriented projects and zones for changing art that support downtown as a dynamic environment with something new to explore with each visit.