Danville’s work towards public art policy impresses Heritage Council

Published 7:25 pm Thursday, July 18, 2019



The Kentucky Heritage Council calls Danville’s work to study public art in historic districts “an exciting new proposal.” The kudos were received via a news release about 12 projects in nine designated Certified Local Government (CLG) communities that were awarded matching grants for ‘19-’20.

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The Danville Public Art in Historic Places Education Project entails elected officials, Architectural Heritage Board (AHB) members and city staff studying how the incorporation of art into historic preservation areas has been handled in other cities and communities. The $2,112 grant was awarded to the AHB; it required a match of $1,408 from Danville.

Historic Preservation Coordinator Joni House said the project is “a two-pronged attack.”

The first “prong” involves AHB and city council members going to Cincinnati to meet with its preservation staff and other officials. They plan to learn about ArtWorks, a nonprofit organization with a mission of promoting workforce development and youth training, all through creating public art, including in historic areas.

After last year’s public debate of whether or not a modern mural was appropriate in Danville’s historic business district, House said the grant will give officials the opportunity to learn how other communities handle public art in their historic districts.

Because installing murals in historic districts is “kind of new concept” for those who work in the historic preservation field, “this is a pretty reasonable way” to see how other communities handle the situation. This will help the process of the AHB approving public art projects to be “more smooth and easier in Danville,” House said.

The second part of the project tentatively will feature a workshop for AHB and city council members to hear an official from a community similar to Danville, perhaps from Shelbyville, about how they deal with public art. “They’ve been pretty successful,” House said.

Later, the AHB will invite the public to give their input on public art and murals.

“We need to get their feedback and be able to talk to each other,” House said.

House previously estimated the event could happen by early fall, possibly. According to the memorandum of agreement, the work must be completed by Aug. 1, 2020.

House said Danville wants to be a leader in finding ways to make a great downtown living space, while also preserving its history.

“We have to look at what has worked and what hasn’t, and also let the citizenry have input,” she said. “So this grant is our way of getting our citizens working together and moving forward.”

“How to do it and do it right — that’s our goal. Let’s learn how to do it right,” AHB Chair Tom Tye said.

Grants totaling $76,811 also went to Bardstown, Bellevue, Campbellsville, Covington, Frankfort, Hopkinsville, Horse Cave and Metro Louisville from the CLG program, which is administered by the KHC with funds allocated annually through the National Park Service. The local funds and in-kind services given to qualify for the grants total $51,208.

Funded projects in other communities include a variety of workshops and educational programming, historic building survey and documentation, fieldwork for nominating sites to the National Register of Historic Places, and developing an interactive model of a Victorian-era house that can be used to demonstrate how different types of building alterations impact architectural integrity.

According to the KHC, more than $13,000 from this grant cycle has also been set aside for a second grant round this fall. It will be used to supplement projects already in the works, or provide scholarships to local CLG program coordinators and board members to attend annual training presented by the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions, the National Trust for Historic Preservation or the Kentucky Main Street Program.