As part of an effort to advocate for the city’s proposed public art millage, a small group of Ann Arbor residents have started holding a number of events, including parties at restaurants and shops, a pig roast, a concert and dinners at homes of notable locals like Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje.

Citizens for Art in Public Places, an independent group of residents pushing for the public arts proposal, has initiated the blitz campaign in support of the proposal. Most of the events, which have been scheduled between Sept. 26 and this Sunday, are volunteer-driven by various residents, according to campaign manager Mike Henry.

The proposed millage would generate about $459,273 in revenue its first year of operation and would pay for the addition of art in public spaces throughout the city.

Henry said he organized the fundraisers in attempt to raise awareness on the issue and garner funds to help offset the costs of printing and distributing informational material.

“There are 99,000 potential voters in Ann Arbor and those voters need to understand the millage,” Henry said. “There is some confusion in the public marketplace about what the millage would go towards and why it’s important.”

Henry said the group primarily hopes to clarify the minimal cost of the proposed property tax, which would span three years and cost most households about $11 annually.

“We want the public to know that it’s a small amount,” Henry said.

Despite differing political ideologies, area residents and students have united in the effort to support the art millage and its potential effect on public art. All but two City Council members — Marcia Higgins (D–Ward 4) and Jane Lumm (D–Ward 2) — have formally endorsed the proposal.

Henry said the passage of public arts millage would immensely benefit the community.

“I think that art is very important to our community with regard to making it competitive, with regard to economic development,” Henry said.

Henry also noted that the proposal would allow Ann Arbor to continue to be a leader in public art.

“Ann Arbor is known for being a leader especially in Michigan, especially in the U.S. , for college town culture and art. I think it is important that the public make it a priority and invest in it,” he said.

Marsha Chamberlin, CEO of the Ann Arbor Art Center, said enthusiasm for the millage has already spread throughout the community, and local groups have reached out specifically to artists who specialize in temporary art. She alluded to a project by Patrick Dougherty, who creates tent sculptures woven out of tree branches and is expected to install a piece on campus within the next few years.

Chamberlin noted that Dougherty’s sculptures are temporary due to their natural composition, and the proposed millage would fund temporary artworks like Dougherty’s that otherwise wouldn’t receive city funding.

Ann Arbor public art commissioner Theresa Reid said she endorses the new millage, but stressed that her support comes as an area resident and not in her official capacity as commissioner. Reid is also the executive director of the UM Arts Engine, a program that facilitates student artists and integrates artwork throughout the University.

Reid said the millage has put public art in the spotlight, which she said will hopefully bring more artists and temporary artwork to the city.

“It’s just an incredible gift to have a public art,” Reid said. “So I’m in favor of public art first and also because of the way this (new) funding will work.”

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