Ferdinand building to get art

The mayor's office says it will solicit artists to create artwork for the municipal building going into the old Ferdinand site in Dudley Square.

The city has a $500,000 budget - $300,000 from city coffers, the rest to be raised from private donors - for the work, which will include "an outdoor sculptural piece at the project's southeast corner, adjacent to the MBTA bus stop" and "a painted or sculptural element to adorn the old brick wall of the Wasserman building, which will be in a vestibule enclosed in glass."

BPS students will get the chance to design "a decorative acoustic panel covering to hang in the School Committee Room" in the building, into which the school department will move from its current Court Street offices.

For more information, contact the Boston Art Commission at 617-635-3245.

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    Hold on a second

    The schools are perennially broke, but we have $300k for artwork. So the teachers have to dip into their own pockets to BUY art supplies in the few instances the kids have what might resemble an arts class, but the system has $300k to spend on art?

    Not arguing against public art - I love lots of the art and sculpture scattered around the city - just arguing for prioritizing needs over wants.

    They can do whatever they want with private $$$ - but you need to show a little more common sense when you are spending the public's money.

    capital vs recurring costs

    You can't really compare one-time capital expenditures to annual expenditures. Generally government pays for big capital costs like this from bond measures. School supplies and other recurring expenditures are paid for with tax dollars. You don't want to issue a bond to pay for school supplies. It's not uncommon to see government spend lots of money on shiny new stuff (expanding or renovating buildings or new construction) and then underfund the regular upkeep. That's just the nature of how we fund things - its often easier to get a big chunk of money for a specific one-time project than it is to get smaller, quotidian expenses funded year after year.

    So we have to pay interest on this too?

    so on top of the $300k we have to pay thousands of dollars a year in interest on it too? That'll make the teachers feel really good next time they are at Utrecht buying construction paper and glue.

    It's not clear where the money is coming from and it doesn't make it any better. It's a waste of public resources.

    No...

    I mean, yes, I know sometimes public art is done entirely based on donations, but art supplies cost money. Some mural projects are done in such a way that teens with minimal art skills can do the painting as part of a service project, while others require more specialized skills. Either way, there's at the very least the professional or professional-caliber artist who designs and directs the project. Even if they can find a student who is capable of doing professional-grade artwork, someone with those skills still needs to be compensated. Some artists who are doing very nicely in their careers can and do donate their time, but it shouldn't be an expectation. There's something very wrong with our society in that we expect people in the arts to work for free in the form of community projects and things like art "contests" where you "win" the right to have someone use your work without paying you. People in the arts need to be paid for most of their work with only the occasional donation to a truly needy organization, just like people in other lines of work.

    Why?

    The only times I've ever been in the lecture hall is for a lecture or forum of some type. When I'm there, I'm there to concentrate on what the people at the front are saying - and the library does its part by turning down the lights, except those over the stage, the better to help you concentrate on the speakers.

    They have the entire rest of the two buildings to gussy up. And they do.

    And they usually put potted plants on the stage ...

    Fitting

    It's going to be the centerpiece of Dudley square. It's fitting to have a piece of major artwork there. It's terrible that teachers have to purchase their own art supplies, but that shouldn't stop the city from sponsoring art. By that logic, none of the art the city sponsored in 2012/2013 was worth it.

    This kind of expenditure does a lot to soften the feel of neighborhood. It's value is more than aesthetic, it's economic and very real.