History of The Urbana Public Arts Program and Commission

The Creation of an Urbana Public Arts Program was identified in September of 2005 as a Common Goal Initiative of the Urbana City Council. The following implementation strategies were recommended in this initiative:

  • Establish a dedicated revenue stream for public art.
  • Encourage the preservation and commemoration of local and multicultural traditions and histories.
  • Integrate art into every feasible public works project.
  • Create a public art program that represents our community in all its diversity – in terms of race, geography, gender, class, sexual orientation, belief-system, etc.
  • Provide opportunities for local, regional, and national artists, both established and emerging.
  • Develop a strong public collection of artworks representing diverse communities, artistic styles, and disciplines.
  • Establish a public arts commission.

Public Arts Task Force

In November of 2006, a Public Arts Task Force was formed to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a Public Arts Program and Commission. The Task Force held its first meeting in March, 2007 and met monthly for one year while collecting public input, evaluating programs in other cities, and surveying existing local opportunities in the arts.


The following members of the public dedicated significant time and energy by serving on the Public Arts Task Force. These members provided invaluable perspectives as residents, artists, administrators, and teachers.

  • Danielle Chynoweth, Chair, Graphic Design, Audio
  • Michael Carberry, Musician, Arts Educator
  • Gregory Chew, Director and Drama Teacher, Urbana High School
  • Lisa Costello, Director, Parkland Art Gallery
  • Lisa Fay, Choreographer-Composer
  • Benjamin Grosser, Artist, Designer, Composer
  • Robin Hall, Director, Office of Recreation and Parks Resources, U of I
  • Barbara Hedlund, Musician, Teacher, Publisher
  • Karma Ibsen, Theater Director
  • Sharon Irish, Art/Architectural history researcher, U of I
  • Robin Kearton, Musician, Director of Bow-Dacious String Band
  • Jessie Knox, Artist, Cartographer
  • M. Cynthia Oliver, Choreographer/Associate Director of Dance, U of I
  • Susan Parenti, Composer, Teacher
  • Ann Coddington Rast, Professor of Art, Eastern Illinois University
  • Megan Wolf, Director of Development, 40 North / 88 West
  • Theodore Zernich, Former Professor and Director, U of I School of Art and Design

Collecting Public Input

The 2007 Community Input Report is the outcome of an extensive public involvement program conducted by the Public Arts Task Force as part of its work to collect public input regarding the Urbana Public Arts Program. The Report documents and summarizes input gathered from local artists, arts organizations, members of the business community, and the general public during a variety of public input sessions in 2007.

The Community Input Report focuses on public input regarding community involvement in the arts, common goals from various stakeholder groups, common barriers to meeting goals in the arts, and recommendations on projects to be pursued by a Public Arts Program. The Report can be read below.

Public Arts Community Input Report 2008.pdf

Public Arts Task Force Recommendation for a Public Arts Program and Commission

After a year of collecting public input, researching other municipal public arts programs, and drafting a program unique to Urbana, the Public Arts Task Force prepared a recommendation for a Public Arts Program and Public Arts Commission for the City of Urbana. The proposal which was accepted by the City Council on April 14th, 2008, served as a guiding document for the Public Arts Commission as they further developed the Public Arts Program.

Establishment of a Public Arts Commission and Program

The Urbana City Council established a Public Arts Commission and Program for the City of Urbana on April 21st, 2008. On July 14th, 2008, members of the Public Arts Commission were appointed.

A summary presentation by staff illustrating the municipal public arts context is available on the link below. The ordinance establishing the Public Arts Commission and Program is also posted on the link below.

- Last Modified -August 18, 2020 - 4:29pm
- Author - admin