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Santa Maria looking to further enhance public art displays in the city

Santa Maria Public Art
Dave Alley/KEYT
Valley of Light Sculpture at the Betteravia Government Center in Santa Maria.

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The City of Santa Maria is looking to further enhance public art displays in the city through a proposed partnership with a local non-profit organization.

On Tuesday, Santa Maria City Council will vote to approve a resolution that will designate People for Leisure and Youth Inc. (PLAY) as the official non-profit agency to solicit, receive and manage donations for the city's Public Art Master Plan.

If approved it would also designate the Recreation and Parks Department as the official oversight committee for the Public Art Master Plan.

Approved by Santa Maria City Council in 2019, the Public Art Master Plan is an official framework that shapes the city's guidance and principles to establish artwork within Santa Maria.

"We have this great plan adopted by City Council in 2019 to really make the City of Santa Maria a more enjoyable place to work, play and live," said Dennis Smitherman, Santa Maria Recreation Services Manager. "We have this plan that we follow to incorporate more art into the downtown and throughout the city."

Smitherman pointed out a partnership with PLAY will provide additional funding opportunities for public art projects through grants, donations and gifts, as well as create a more stable subsidy basis.

We're really hoping that the council approves PLAY to be the fiduciary agent so PLAY can go out and raise funds for more public art in the future," said Smitherman. "By having a non-profit, we're going to be able to go after additional funding that's usually only open to non-profits agencies, so we're excited that this will help the city's progress in moving public art forward.

Smitherman added that since city adopted the Public Art Master Plan, a number of highly-visable projects have been added throughout the community.

"The amount of artwork that we've been able to install following this plan has been really great, new murals, we're working on new sculptures recently, and just a lot of different activity," said Smitherman. "We'll have a new utility art box project happening this spring as well, so we're  really excited to be able to move forward and having these goals and benchmarks in the plan."

Some residents are excited about the current artwork on display and are looking forward to see new additions in the future.

"I think it's much needed around here," said Alexandria Lopez of Santa Maria. "There's a lot of places in town that can really use that. It just adds a little pop of color and adds a little bit of personality and it's focal points, conversation pieces and things like that. To see it more scattered throughout the city would just be nice and a way to just add a little different layer of personality to the city."

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