City council is bowing out of maintenance of the Ross Street Plaza stage, letting the Shuswap District Arts Council take the lead.
Salmon Arm’s mayor and council agreed to establish a maintenance agreement for the stage (not the public restrooms) with the arts council after receiving a presentation from arts council director/curator Tracey Kutscker, who explained how the arts council has been inundated with requests by community members asking, “what are we going to do about that roof,” referring to the weathered cedar trim around the top of the stage.
“Of course, I keep telling people that we are not responsible for the roof,” said Kutschker. “I’m delighted to pass information on to city staff, but it’s not our responsibility. However, other people have suggested maybe we could make it our responsibility. Maybe protecting a piece of public art that we helped create in the downtown would be something that we would take on as an ongoing responsibility.”
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond suggested money budgeted to fix up the roof, $1,500, be transferred to the arts council so they can manage the process.
“I think we want quality work done and if the quote is greater than $1,500, I’d certainly be open to you coming back and requesting the difference,” commented Coun. Alan Harrison.
Kutschker also asked that the arts council work with city staff to create a policy addressing the use of the Ross Street Plaza stage “as it related to physical items affixed to its surface and roof.” This policy, she explained, could be integrated with the city’s Cultural Master Plan when it is created.
“This is things like signage, posters, other kinds of items that are either attached temporarily or over a long period of time to the work of public art,” said Kutschker. “And it’s a bigger conversation than saying, ‘please don’t tape posters to the mosaic.’”
Wallace Richmond suggested that, for the time being, the maintenance agreement could speak to whether or not people tape things to the mosaic.
Kutschker says it would be preferable to keep the public space and work of art that is the Ross Street Plaza stage area free of posters and advertising.
“You open the door to that kind of thing, it becomes an advertising venue and people will put posters, other things, hanging things, whatever else up there…,” said Kutschker, “And that was never the intention. That it would become a commercialized space with sponsor names and things like that on it.”
Kutschker noted approximately 200 people contributed to the making of the scenic mosaic on the stage wall, and her desire to protect it comes not from a sense of ownership, but responsibility.
“I definitely feel the responsibility now that we put that huge amount of work into that mosaic – I feel a responsibility to make sure it’s protected and featured as a really big part of our downtown, a big part of our city,” explained Kutschker.
Kutschker and the arts council are now looking at long-lasting options for the wood trim, including stains, Hardie Board and metal cladding.