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Syracuse Common Council passes proposal to fund new art program

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo

A new art initiative is coming to the city of Syracuse, thanks to funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The “City as Canvas” program would bring art to the streets of Syracuse, everything from large murals to neighborhood-specific installations. The city would use $250,000 in ARPA funding to pay for the project.

Director of Strategic Initiatives Jen Tifft said the investment will go beyond beautifying the city.

"What enables us to use the ARPA funds to do this is our ability to support artists and organizations from an economic recovery perspective," said Tifft.

The Syracuse Common Council passed the proposal 7-to-1 with the “no” vote being District 1 Councilor Jennifer Schultz. Schultz expressed concern about the city’s ability to preserve the art for years to come.

"I just feel like there's some good intentions, but I'm not sure the exact plan is there to protect and preserve as much as you think it's going to be," said Schultz.

Jimmy Monto, the president of Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today, which is administering the project, said he’s hopeful the art will be able to be maintained.

“One of our key components with the Public Arts Commission and with the artists is that they use the best materials possible with the money they have,” said Monto. “We’re going to ask some questions about how long will it last? What will you do to protect the paint? What kind of coating are you using?”

Monto also spoke about how he hopes to involve the whole community with the project.

"I think it would be a mistake on our part to not include an educational piece, whether it's third graders, or it's artists who are retirees who need a new hobby, or anybody," said Monto.

A second proposal to allocate $1.25 million toward supporting arts and cultural organizations was tabled pending discussion at a committee meeting Friday.

On Monday, the council also approved pandemic relief funding for the Urban Jobs Task Force with the goal of hiring local workers for the upcoming Interstate 81 project.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.