We are pleased to announce the details of WESTAF’s 17th symposium: The Future History of Public Art. This gathering of public art practitioners and allied professionals will convene November 5-7 in Honolulu. The symposium is being organized by WESTAF in collaboration with Forecast Public Art and the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
The event will be held at the Hawai’i State Art Museum, which is managed by the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. The location was selected because of Hawai’i’s long-time engagement with public art. In 1967, Hawai’i became the first state to enact percent-for-art legislation. Today, the state has more than 450 permanently sited and over 5,500 relocatable artworks in its collection. The Hawai’i state public art collection can be found on the Public Art Archive here.
The symposium will bring together public art administrators, directors, artists, critics, curators, academics, and researchers to consider the future of the field. Participants will survey growing trends and challenges and propose ways the field might develop to create a richer and more sustainable long-term infrastructure. In addition, the symposium will inform WESTAF leadership
as it considers ways to bolster its work in the public art field. Currently, WESTAF manages the Public Art Archive™, an online resource for the public art field that contains records in a searchable database of over 12,000 works of public art. The Archive is in the midst of a major expansion that will include the development of a collection-management tool for public art and the development of social media extensions that will increase knowledge of and access to public art.
The key subjects that will be covered at the symposium include:
● A review and analysis of existing public art policy and funding structures and an examination of efforts to circumvent limitations imposed by such systems
● A consideration of the challenges related to installation and preservation of public art
● A discussion of the implications of the growing use of technology in both the
development and implementation processes of public art
● A review of growing trends in temporary public art events and an evaluation of their impact
● An examination of gaps in public art research
● A consideration of ways to promote better data collection
● A critique of the current state of democracy in the field
The symposium will be preceded by a public art workshop developed and led by Forecast Public Art with support from the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and WESTAF. The workshop is scheduled for Sunday, November 5, from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm. The workshop will be focused on sparking conversations about the current concerns of practitioners and
collaborators in the field. The session is designed to be an interactive discussion drawing questions and topics from the group with the hopes of a lively and fun afternoon of networking and sharing. Questions posed in the workshop may range from advocacy and engagement, racial equity and inclusion, best practices for community engagement, tools for broadening
policy and funding mechanisms, public art in the media, and ways to increase opportunities for professional development. The workshop is available at no cost to registered symposium observers.
Observers are encouraged to attend the symposium; however, space is limited. Observers are responsible for covering the cost of their travel and lodging. In addition, they are asked to pay a $185 fee to underwrite costs of meals included in the event. Please note that observers are not part of the core symposium conversation. Those interested in observing the symposium must
register by Friday, September 15. Registered observers will be notified via email by Friday, September 22, and will receive additional details regarding their participation at that time. As with all previous WESTAF symposia, this gathering will have a life beyond the in-person meeting. As part of the symposium process, WESTAF prepares and publishes the symposium discussion in the form of proceedings. The proceedings will also be made available on the WESTAF website.