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Manhattan Beach Approves $400,000 for Art Projects

The Manhattan Beach City Council approved spending up to $400,000 of Public Art Trust Fund money on two public art projects – $200,000 toward commemorating the city’s centennial and $200,000 on art for the new Manhattan Beach library.


For the centennial piece, the Cultural Arts Commission can explore commissioning a site-specific work or displaying temporary artworks that would increase or enhance the centennial celebration, said Richard Gill, director of parks and recreation.


“The idea of having our own people select centennial artwork is a fantastic idea,” said Councilmember Richard Montgomery. The city hopes to unveil the centennial art project in December.


The fund’s current uncommitted balance is $304,276, with about $50,000 coming in every year, Gill said. He added that $50,000 of the fund must be spent by spring, due to a five-year time limit on spending.


While the entire council was in favor of using a portion of the funds to commission or select a centennial art project, council members David Lesser and Amy Howorth felt the $200,000 was steep. “I don’t think were ready at all to move this forward,” Lesser said.


Howorth agreed. “I think we need to see (the art) before we can say, ‘Go ahead and spend $200,000,’” she said. “I’m uncomfortable with numbers as well and the process.” She added that there might be art projects in the future the council would want to pursue. Both Lesser and Howorth supported using up to $200,000 from the fund for the library art project.


The art fund was created in 2002 and “reserves a fee for art in public places on every residential development of four or more units, every commercial and industrial building project with a building valuation exceeding $500,000, and when remodeling such buildings with a valuation exceeding $250,000,” according to a city staff report.


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