A gathering of approximately fifty people, from the Mayor and several City Councilors to current and former Public Art Commissioners to interested residents gathered in the island across from the Library to celebrate and dedicate the completion of a public art project many years in the making.
Ashland's State Representative (and former City Councilor) Pam Marsh moderated the event that included speakers such as Mayor John Stromberg and Ann Seltzer, longtime City Staff member and staff liaison to the Public Arts Commission since its inception.
Ashland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandra Slattery connected the piece to the local economy and overall culture of Ashland. Her speech provides a very good summary of the objective of the Public Arts program in Ashland.
Public Art Dedication of Threshold – June 6, 2018
by Sandra Slattery, Ashland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
Thank you for inviting me to share a few words with you on the Chamber’s views of the cultural and economic importance of public art in our community. Ashland has a unique history of having been founded by individuals who cared about, and invested in, the cultural and educational resources we take for granted today.
While they physically created our built environment, they made sure there were spaces for public art including sculpture, fountains and iconic symbols of creativity and beauty.
Over the years, public art expanded with mosaics, murals, and many more installations throughout Ashland that underscore our community values of supporting creative expression and innovation.
Public art is not only accessible to our residents but to the many visitors who come to Ashland. Sixty-five percent of American travelers include a cultural, arts or historic activity in their agenda and, in Ashland, we know that figure is even higher.
The average visitor to Ashland is highly-educated and appreciates the cultural amenities of our community, the independent businesses, restaurants, art, theatre, music, the beauty of walking in Lithia Park and our charming downtown and Railroad District. Public art is an important part of the total package.
People are looking for genuine experiences – not cookie cutter businesses or bland public spaces – they can find those anywhere in America. Throughout the world, cities have invested in public art for centuries and continue to push the envelope for investment in new and exciting installations knowing the importance it has for our souls and, of course, for business.
Think about the places you have visited, the photos you have taken and stories you have shared with others on sites they shouldn’t miss. We love to share the beauty but also those things that make us think, generate debate, stimulate conversation, emotions or make us laugh.
Public art welcomes individuals to our community creating memorable spaces, showcasing and underscoring our creative culture. Public art surprises, delights and, at times, can shake us up. It reveals a community willing to be bold and try new things while it stimulates imagination.
Public art demonstrates to our visitors and to potential residents and businesses the financial investment the community has made and is willing to continue to make with many competing priorities for funding. Our society will continue to need public art that is accessible, meaningful and relevant to our lives today. It will become our legacy for generations to come telling the story of what was important to us as it continues to generate independent thought – a value we hope will always be relevant to our citizens and visitors in the future.