Local schools want more art displayed

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    By Irinna Schwenke

    Schools are usually not the first places that come to mind when the word art is mentioned. However, with the approval of a new art collections program, local schools may soon exhibit some of Utah’s top artists.

    Patti Harrington, art director of the Provo School district, approached the school board at the meeting to define guidelines, which will help the school district acquire, care for and maintain art pieces in local school areas.

    The policy will allow artwork, worth $300 or more, approved by an arts committee, to be displayed on school property, Harrington said.

    The committee will be made up of teachers and school officials who will decide which art pieces best reflect a positive learning environment, Harrington said.

    “I think that at least one committee member should be from outside the school arena,” said Nancy Hutchins, school board vice president.

    By mixing school officials and art professionals, the committee eliminates the dangers of making biased decisions, Hutchins said.

    The district would like to see more artwork in their schools. By implementing the art collections program, more artwork will be visible to the public in school offices, libraries and hallways, Harrington said.

    Mossi White, Provo school board president, had some concerns over the historical value surrounding pieces of art.

    “Even if a piece of art is not worth $300 or more, if it is painted by an important person in the district, we should keep it on display,” White said. “It would be nice to say years from now that so and so painted this picture. Art value isn’t always monetary,” she said.

    Another concern of the board was the process by which artwork would be sold following the closure of a school, Hutchins said.

    “This problem is coming up with Maesar School,” Hutchins said.

    Maesar Elementary School will be closing following the completion of the Southeast school in Provo, she said.

    “I would like to see the art in Maesar displayed in another school or in a museum of some sort,” Hutchins said. “It is a historical building and the artwork inside it is historical as well.”

    The board unanimously agreed that any disposal of artwork must come before the board’s approval first, White said.

    Because of the concerns brought up by board members, the action item to approve the art collection guidelines was taken off the October agenda, she said.

    “We will leave it out for a month in order to give the board more time to gain input on how the art collection program can operate more smoothly,” White said.

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