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Embarrassed by AHB rejection of mural

Dear Editor,

I am extremely disappointed and embarrassed to read that The Heart of Danville’s chosen artist for the public mural was rejected by the Architectural Heritage Board after already having approved the artist and location. Disappointed because I thought The Heart’s proposal was a positive one for our community, and also because The Heart (a non-profit) has already spent some of their limited funds and secured a grant for this particular project.

I’m embarrassed because the message this decision sends to rest of the world about our town. Not only does it send the message that artists and contractors whose work requires the approval of the AHB cannot trust the board’s initial decisions, it also sends the message locally that all the statements we make about supporting the arts and entertainment events (Great American Brass Band Festival, Kentucky Barbecue Festival, Main Street Live, Community Arts Center, Soul of 2nd Street Festival, and others, not to mention our relationship with Carrickfergus, Ireland, with whom we’ve recently engaged in an artists exchange program) are only a facade.

After over 30 years experience promoting and participating in various art events, I know how negatively this decision will appear for many people outside our community.

Ultimately, this impression will affect the amount of tax dollars we receive from participants of our local arts-and-entertainment events (I’m thinking primarily of the income from out-of-town, but speaking as a Danville resident, I think it will decrease revenue from our own citizens. If this is our community’s attitude toward the arts, I’d prefer to drive the distance to other counties in order to enjoy their own events.)

The AHB’s responsibility is to protect historic areas and buildings. I’m thankful that we have an organization with that mission, but in this case I firmly believe they’ve overstepped their bounds. In earlier meetings, they expressed no concerns about how this project would affect our historic areas and buildings, and apparently they now consider themselves to be art critics, and feel their own opinions trump those of the citizens they represent. The fact they’ve reversed a previously approved decision, based simply on not appreciating the final result of an artist whose style they had already approved, is mind-boggling to me, and makes me disappointed and sad that non-Boyle residents will think this is business-as-usual for us. That is, after all, what they are going to think when they learn of this decision.

Richard Power

Danville