Fredericksburg Arts Commission 2016 Annual Report
The commission’s Public Art committee installed four large sculptures in 2016, the first year of the commission’s Public Sculpture program. The public response to the sculptures has been overwhelmingly positive. The program has demonstrated the City’s commitment to improving the quality of life in Fredericksburg through public art. We’re eternally thankful to Council for its
support of the program, to the departments of Parks and Recreation and Public Works for their logistical support, and to the EDA for it’s financial support.
The commission’s Website committee undertook a project in 2016 to support the commission’s goal to promote the Fredericksburg art community. We produced short videos that highlighted the many
art galleries in the city, promoted work by individual local artists, and shared information of interest to the art community. Through the increased activity and paying for advertising, our Facebook audience more than tripled and now represents a much larger regional audience, including Northern Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and North Carolina. Many local artists told us that they
appreciated the information that the commission was sharing and the clear effort that we were putting into supporting the community.
Event and Project Funding
In addition to administering the funds from the Virginia Commission for the Arts Matching Grant program, the commission takes applications for funding support for individual art events and projects. In 2016, the commission supported the Sounds of Summer concert series, an art and cultural exchange with the Kathmandu Sister City, a Veteran’s Art Show, and the 5th annual Art Attack.
In the fourth quarter of 2016, to better accommodate the increasing number of funding requests, the commission’s Events and Promotion committee revised the commission’s funding procedures.
The commission adopted a quarterly review schedule based on the EDA’s and rewrote the funding application and funding recipient agreement letter based on discussions with the EDA and the Mary
Washington Hospital Foundation.
First Friday Trolley
The commission formed a First Friday Trolley committee in December 2015 to manage the operation of the trolley program. This year, the committee engaged gallery owners and representatives to try to determine how the trolley could work better for the galleries, and started implementing early improvements, including redesigning the trolley map and distributing copies to the galleries and other local businesses, including information about available parking areas on the map and other trolley communications, and working with student volunteers to gather data about overall ridership, location and time popularity, and rider experience.
The Public Art committee’s plan for the second year of the Public Sculpture program includes two new sites, for a total of six works to be installed in October 2017. The challenge will be to fund the
six sites since we do not anticipate the EDA to support the second year of the program. We have requested the funding for the full Public Sculpture budget in our FY18 budget request to ensure that
we can continue this program.
The largest challenge for many of the commission’s committees is that the commissioners and other committee members have limited time available to accomplish their goals. In 2017, we plan to
engage interns from UMW to assist with tasks like social media content creation, trolley management, community information surveys, and other commission administration.
The Venues committee will survey Fredericksburg’s available performing arts venues in 2017 and attempt to determine what needs of the local performing art community are not being met.
First Friday Trolley
The commission has committed to funding the trolley through FY17 and hopes to be able to continue the program in the future. The First Friday Trolley committee will continue to engage gallery representatives and respond to any concerns that they have. It will continue to gather and ultimately analyze ridership data. The committee has plans to improve the visibility of trolley signs, better inform the community about the trolley program, and increase distribution of printed trolley information.
In my capacity as chair, I plan to improve aspects of the operations of the commission. I believe our current commission would benefit from easier sharing of resources (i.e. working documents, committee rosters, contact information) and future commissions would benefit from document templates, documented procedures (i.e. website maintenance, budget preparation), and historical
records (i.e. previous budgets, previous funding recipients, lessons learned). I believe that some simple systems can help us work more efficiently and let future commissions benefit from the great
work that our commissioners are doing.