East Lansing passes ordinance supporting public art

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By Chris Hauler
Entirely East Lansing

The City Council passed an ordinance that helps further East Lansing’s reputation as a city dedicated to arts and culture. The ordinance, which passed 3-1, requires that 1 percent of the cost of both private and city construction be used for public art.

According to city attorney Thomas Yeadon, the ordinance will not apply to plans that have already been approved.

“Once the effective date is established, any project seeking site plan approval that has not already submitted its request will be required to comply with this,” said Yeadon. “Site approval is when you have to show staff how you are meeting the percent for art requirement.”

Art with private developments would be capped at $25,000. A penalty, which includes denial of a certificate of occupancy, will be enforced on owners who fail to install the public art required by this ordinance or keep up with its maintenance.

Exemptions from this public art requirement include: Projects where the total cost is less than $500,000, renovations that cost less than $2.5 million, residential projects containing fewer than four residential units and projects where a developer donates a piece of art equivalent to 1 percent of total project costs.

East Lansing has a history as a community that celebrates art. The city’s art festival has been a staple in the community for more than 50 years, the film festival has been an annual event for 14 years, the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum of Art has been open for more than two years and the city just opened two maker studios.

“The idea behind the ordinance is to increase our investment in public art,” said Mayor Triplett. “Our intention is for this to be the exclusive means for funding public art.”

As of July 15, 2015, the city will be responsible to begin paying its share for public projects funded by East Lansing.

“I think it’s going to be a great benefit to the city,” said Council Member Kathy Boyle. “I think it’s a modest approach to funding art, but a steady approach to funding art.”

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