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Arts Commission Takes On Different Look After Council Decision

citycouncil_062309_2Differing opinions on Commission's structure cause frustration.

 

How many members should sit on a yet-to-be-formed new city Arts Commission? An art advisory committee says nine. Two Council members agree. Three others say that number should be five.

And such was the major source of contention at Tuesday night's City council meeting.

 

In January, the Council had voted to pursue a dedicated City commission to deal with arts promotion and programs within the area. An arts advisory committee consisting of local arts leaders along with Mayor Frank Ferry and Councilman Bob Kellar were given the task of researching a plan to make it happen.

 

The result of that research and discussion culminated in a presentation of the committee's consensus, which, in a nutshell, recommended that the Commission be formed as an advisory body with nine members. The potential mission of this Commission was drafted as such: "The Arts Commission acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council to promote, support, and develop arts and culture for the benefit of the citizens, arts organizations, artists, and businesses, and to facilitate economic development of the City."

 

While the overall goal of the Commission was widely agreed upon, the City Council chose to stray from other areas of the recommendation.

 

Number of Members

Council members Bob Kellar and Marsha McLean supported the recommended amount of nine commissioners, citing a prediction that the Commission members would be highly active and responsible for accommodating a wide variety of artistic designations.

 

Mayor Frank Ferry, joined by Council members Laurene Weste and Laurie Ender felt that the Commission should be limited to five members in an effort to stay inline with the City's other commissions.

 

Kellar and McLean argued that the Arts Commission would operate differently than the City's other commissions and therefore should not be organized the same. Furthermore they did not see the purpose of limiting the commission's strength in numbers.

 

However Ferry, Weste and Ender defended their position claiming that when it comes to budgetary allotments the Commission would have to advise alongside the other commissions and therefore they should be the same.

 

Member Backgrounds

Originally, Council members McLean and Kellar also hoped to keep the members' residency out of the process, however Weste, Ferry and Ender expressed their desire to limit the membership requirements to only those who live in the City. McLean and Kellar came to support this matter as a concession.

 

Member Payment

The Arts Advisory Committee proposed that members of the new commission be paid $50 per meeting. Four members of the Council decided to increase that number to be equal to the amount the Parks Commission receives. Marsha McLean supported offering a $25 per meeting stipend.

 

In the end the Council opted to avoid a full motion vote on the matter, which was to provide direction to City staff, who will then prepare an official motion of formation for a future vote, based on the standards discussed Tuesday.

 

By avoiding an official vote on the recommendations, the Council sidestepped what would have likely been a narrow 3-2 vote branded in the public record. Instead, Council members seemed satisfied to leave their individual positions in the realm of the televised broadcast and subsequent media reports.

 

Their final direction to City Manager Ken Pulskamp was to craft a proposal for the formation of the new Arts Commission with five members, all of whom must be City residents. It is expected that each Councilmember will nominate one Commission member, who will then be confirmed by a majority Council vote.

 

Read what other issues were discussed at Tuesday's City Council meeting by clicking here.