Helen Lessick

Project management in public art is, increasingly, information management.

As I travel, research and learn for WRAP, the Web-based Resources for Art in Public initiative, I see the potential for dots to connect across disciplines and efforts.

In public art administration we manage selection committees, contracts, and community processes to get an artist selected.

When the project is done, we manage documentation of the project, including its presence as a cultural object in our facility; its contractual life as a community building tool; and its online informational profile.

In public art competition and design, we manage our images and artists’ statements, documenting (and endlessly resizing) our creative works and our innovations in outreach, process, and community engagement. We write letters, articles, proposals and master plans, stored on the cloud, a hard drive, or memory stick, to help us apply for the next creative opportunity.  

Art consultants and curators look for work too, and search for sample artwork on Google, Yahoo. Bing or Creative Commons. We all manage projects and data beyond our hard drive and web site.

A recent conference in Minneapolis showcased the opportunities the digital age provides.  The VRA and ARLIS/NA, (Visual Resources Association and Art Libraries Society of North America respectively) held a joint conference March 24–28 with the program theme of “Collaboration: Building Bridges in the 21st Century.”

The group includes academic and museum librarians, visual resource staff serving art, science, and design departments, and non-profit industries working to serve the field. A more helpful, fun-loving and generous group of professionals you will never meet.

Their field faces layoffs and understaffing, scant resources and demanding clients similar to those public art is facing.

There were many, benefits from attending the conference, including seeing the impressive and diverse skills that professional art and visual resource librarians bring to collection data.

Thorough and consistent collection information helps everyone find the resource they are seeking, and discover works they did not know exist.

From an artist doing a self-initiated project to public art staff to elected officials and the general public, managing your data is an important step in public art project management. It does not end at the dedication.

I’ll have even more information for you in tomorrow’s post – Data Management Solutions.

Note: Helen Lessick will be discussing WRAP during the Public Art Preconference breakfast roundtable discussions.

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Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.