INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Arts Council’s efforts to catalog public arts helped form the data for its new Equity in Public Art Census.
Now that public art disparities have been identified, organizers say this will help guide us on how to make improvements.
Over the past year, Scouts have been able to identify over 3,000 pieces of public art visible on public rights-of-way, but have also identified several public art deserts. Art Equity Census officials say owning these works of art is essential to telling the stories of the community and promoting its value.
Public art often reflects the community. It often means that a community suffers and triumphs.
“If I have art in my neighborhood, if I have art in my community, that tells me again that my community is valuable. My community is a beautiful place to live,” said researcher Danicia Monet Malone.
A year ago, the arts council and Rokh, in partnership with multiple agencies, launched an Art Equity Census to identify the art in Marion County, who creates it, and why it is there. Key findings highlighted disparities and areas for improvement.
“One thing we are proud to have identified are public art deserts. These are communities where public art is scarce or public art is not as accessible,” said Monet Malone. “If we think public art is a resource and a necessity in our communities, then we should be looking at how we can support those communities.”
Just under 20% of artworks lacked an artist signature or marker, creating challenges for research aimed at accurately measuring equity, inclusion and representation. Among the artists identified, black, Latino and Asian artists represent only a quarter of the work even though they represent half of the population.
“Anyone’s experience of public space should not be predicted by their race, gender, or economic status,” said public art director Julia Moore. “We don’t want to see public art that doesn’t speak to people in the community.
Arts Council officials say the data collected will help improve public art inventories, better attribute artists’ works, and inform civic partnerships to help direct funding. This will allow more artists to identify and share community stories through their work.
“We want to make sure that the public art artists who create public art reflect the people who live in the community. We want to make sure the stories of neighborhood residents are told by artists who are very deeply invested in those stories,” Moore said.
A large percentage of public art had no name listed, so in the fall the Arts Council will launch a campaign to encourage artists to claim their work.