Meter art program moving forward for 2016 Ford Arts, Beats & Eats

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published June 1, 2016

 Artwork created during the Meters Made Beautiful program in Wheeling, West Virginia, inspired Royal Oak officials to partner with Ford Arts, Beats & Eats and greenlight a similar initiative in a select area of the downtown late this summer.

Artwork created during the Meters Made Beautiful program in Wheeling, West Virginia, inspired Royal Oak officials to partner with Ford Arts, Beats & Eats and greenlight a similar initiative in a select area of the downtown late this summer.

Photo provided by the city of Wheeling, West Virginia

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ROYAL OAK — Paying for parking downtown may become more appealing following the City Commission’s approval to move forward with the Meters Made Beautiful program suggested by Ford Arts, Beats & Eats.

Commissioners unanimously approved a proposal by Ford Arts, Beats & Eats producer Jon Witz May 23 to collaborate with the Royal Oak Commission for the Arts for a parking meter painting program and contest in time for the annual Labor Day festival.

“We’ve supported the Commission for the Arts for three years, but this probably will be triple the investment that we’ve made in the Commission (for) the Arts and something that they believe — from the meeting we had with them — would be in the best interest of art in the city and doing something cool and cultural,” Witz said.

City Commissioner and Commission for the Arts member Kyle DuBuc said he’d previously seen the Meters Made Beautiful presentation with the arts commission, which gave its enthusiastic support.

“I think it is a really cool idea,” he said. “We asked quite a few questions and there is still a couple of details to be worked out, (but the) Commission for the Arts is eager to play a role and help them make this a great success for the city.”

DuBuc extended his thanks to Ford Arts, Beats & Eats for providing the financial backing. Witz said the festival will be looking for a sponsor, but guaranteed that the festival will back the initiative if a sponsor is not secured.

Witz estimates the endeavor would cost between $8,000 and $9,000. He said the festival also would provide facilitation and management of the project.

The meters eligible for painting would be those inside the festival’s footprint, possibly including those on Washington Avenue;  Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets; and a few on Fourth street.

“Over the last couple of years there’s been discussions and certainly encouragement from City Manager (Don) Johnson and others to collaborate, especially with the Royal Oak Commission for the Arts; after all, we are an arts festival,” he said.

Witz said after it had weighed heavily on his mind while looking for solutions, one of his new staff members conducted research and found the Meters Made Beautiful program in Wheeling, West Virginia.

“They were having artists paint parking meters and it was just a phenomenal-looking program that inspired a lot of, I’d say, culture, arts, beautification in the city, and residents took to it and regional folks took to it, and that’s kind of what brought us here today,” Witz said May 23.

The meters would stay painted following the festival.

“These are supposed to be a fairly permanent situation that would last minimum five to six years,” Witz said.

City officials said the average paint life of a meter is five to six years, so the estimated repainting life of the program would be in line with the city’s regularly scheduled maintenance plan.

Witz said the caliber and quality of artwork would be high quality and would begin the Saturday before the opening of the annual Labor Day Festival.

He said more information would be revealed in mid-June regarding the fine-tuned details, submission deadlines and rules regarding artist approval and juried judging.

There will be rules for submissions including no lewd or suggestive words or pictures, and no political endorsements or commercial messages.

No spray painting would be allowed and a list of approved paints would be provided to accepted artists. A stipend would be provided to artists for supplies, and templates would be provided to maintain meter function.

Witz estimates about 150 meters would be painted, but that number could be lower depending on the quality of the submissions.

The program would award cash prizes to the winners. Witz estimated offering a cash prize of $1,500 for first place and $1,000 for second.

“I think there is potential for great success,” he said.

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