By Rosemary K. Otzman
A Belleville Downtown Development Authority committee is moving forward with plans to lease sculptures to install outside in six locations in downtown Belleville for a year, but it will be seeking some money from local sponsors to make it happen.
At its regular meeting on Sept. 18, the DDA voted to direct the committee of Sabrina Richardson Williams, Tom Fielder, and DDA coordinator Carol Thompson to further explore the project and search out public support.
A tentative plan is for an $11,000 budget, with the DDA paying half and local partnerships paying the other half.
The Midwest Sculpture Initiative was discussed at the August meeting. The DDA committee plans to report on community interest and financial support at the Oct. 16 DDA meeting to determine if the project can move forward and meet MSI’s Nov. 1 deadline to schedule sculptures for 2014.
Williams said the committee had discussed the suggestion of using local artists but there have been no such proposals.
“We don’t know if we’ll get sponsorships, but asking the DDA for half should help with that,” Thompson said.
Councilwoman Kim Tindall asked where the DDA would get the money to spend on the sculptures and Thompson said normally in such cases, since it isn’t in the budget, it is moved out of fund balance.
The MSI works in partnership with Michigan communities to host outdoor sculpture exhibits. MSI juries the artists’ work, manages the sculpture installation and removal after one year, maintains the sculptures during the exhibit, and assists the host community with fundraising and program ideas.
The host community pays MSI a fee, works with MSI to select sculptures and promotes its exhibit.
In other business at the Sept. 18 meeting, the DDA:
• Voted to divide up the 20 teakwood and cast iron benches removed from the old streetscape to sell 10 to the public and provide 10 to a Boy Scout for work to restore the benches for park seating to earn his Eagle badge. The DDA would also like the scout to upgrade the Victory Park gazebo, which has been damaged by skateboarders. The streetscape benches will be for sale for $100 each and the DDA agreed to run an ad. The original purchase time for these benches was 1989-92, when they cost $200 each. Now new benches are $600 each. The benches were stored outside at the DPW yard and became covered with weeds and vines since they were removed from Main Street and were recently uncovered;
• Heard a report from Steve Jones, president of the Belleville Area Council for the Arts, on two projects that used funds from the DDA: Music Lakeside and Artaffair on Main. DDA member Brian Copsey said the events helped his business, referring to the Bayou Grill;
• Heard Thompson report that the DDA got its preliminary score for the proposed MDNR grant for the Horizon Park Fishing Pier and Boat Dock Improvements and, while the score was good, Spicer Engineers have sent more information to the DNR to see if the score can be improved for the rescoring planned for December before being sent on for a final decision on the grant; and
• Was treated to free samples from the Bayou Wednesday Fishfry brought to the meeting by Copsey. Members of the audience also were invited to take the boxed-up fish samples.
By Rosemary K. Otzman