Luis Cancel, San Francisco’s Director of Cultural Affairs, would like final say on public art installations developers are required to install. Over the past 25 years, a mandate has stated that large projects in the Financial District and along upper Market spend at least 1% of their total construction budget on on public art; that can add up to millions of dollars in some cases. Cancel, however, believes chosen art of late has been sub par.
Without providing specific examples of what he regards as sub par work, Cancel said there is support on the San Francisco Arts Commission for requiring developers to obtain that body’s approval before commissioning public art. Today, the commission will consider such a proposal from its staff.
Cancel wants to put a stop to developers abuse of the policy in ways such as putting the required art on the building’s rooftop, and wants a committee to have veto power on selected works.
Of course public opinion varies on the quality of the installed art, but a committee would include several embers, hopefully with differing views of good art so that we continue to see a wide range of installations.