Plans in the works to bring more art to the Garden City

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Augusta is home to the Savannah River, Augusta National, and multiple historic districts. Still, civic leaders say one thing is lacking– public art that distinguishes the Garden City.

A new Public Art Master Plan sets out to fulfill the missing component.

Thousands visit Chicago just to get a picture with the iconic “bean”. Now, the city is working with the Greater Augusta Arts Council to create a piece that tells the story of Augusta. More statues like the James Brown tribute are at the top of their list.

“Downtown is about to change radically,” Brenda Durant, Director of Greater Augusta Art Council, said.

Durant is not just talking about art– buildings are being renovated and the cyber security center is underway. She said art, though, is needed to create a “sense of place.”

Durant is spear-heading the Public Art Master Plan, which goes before Augusta Commission next week. Part of that plan is a sculpture garden, modeled after one in another Georgia city.

“We just visited Suwanee Georgia. Theirs is all very walk-able in their city center area,” Durant explained.

A sculpture garden could cost up to 2 million dollars. This is just one of the many projects in the master plan, though.

The Greater Augusta Art Council is also talking about developing a sculpture trail. Now this trail would need to start in a visible place, like downtown in the Augusta Common. It has the potential to connect districts throughout the downtown area.

Commissioner Sean Frantom is backing the project.

“What are we going to do? I want to do it well. I don’t want to just peacemeal it out. Let’s think it out and financially is the main thing. Where are we going to find the funding to do these things?” Commissioner Frantom asked.

Frantom said he hopes Augusta implements a budget similar to Suwanee’s, where 1% of every new project’s budget is put toward an art program.

Durant said Augusta needs a single, widely-produced sculpture that could be installed in different areas of the city. She has been working with EZ-Go and Textron on a prototype.

“It would be a golf cart bike rack, so the front would be a golf cart and the back would be a place to park and lock your bicycle. It would also be a charging station, so you would be able to sit in the seat, recharge your phone, check the map,” Durant explained.

That prototype will be unveiled in July.

Commissioner Frantom said he sees many of these concepts becoming reality in the near future.

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