Tag Archives: Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council

Sidewalk poetry: is it worth $12,000 of taxpayer money?

Sidewalk poetry installation, Northfield Sidewalk poetry installation, Northfield Poem by Lily Hanlon Poem by Anne Running Sovik
I missed the imprinting of the sidewalk poems yesterday morning so see the short Nfld News video here and the story with more photos at Nfld Patch:  Northfield Sidewalk Poetry Installation

The first two pieces of sidewalk poetry were imprinted in the sidewalks (one on Third Street and another on Division Street) around the Northfield Public Library on Wednesday morning.

They included a piece from Lily Hanlon, a Prairie Creek Community School student, and Anne Running Sovik. These are selections from the first sidewalk public poetry contest from last year, which was sponsored by the Arts & Culture Commission and the Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library. More poems from the 2011 selections will be imprinted at a later date.

I chatted with Library Director Lynne Young as I was taking photos and asked her about the funding for the project. She said that the Northfield Streetscape Task Force contributed $5,000 last year and that the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) awarded a grant this year. I see on the SEMAC page of recent grants that the

City of Northfield Arts & Culture Commission received a $7,100 Arts & Cultural Heritage grant for Sidewalk Public Poetry Project.

"Arts & Cultural Heritage grant" is Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment money. Not counted in the total is City of Northfield staff time (public works, engineering).

I love public art and I think sidewalk poetry is cool.  But I think it’s worth discussing whether $12,000 of taxpayer money for this project is a good investment. I’m undecided.

Update May 22: Some additional photos:

Sidewalk poetry installation, Northfield new sidewalk devoid of poety 

Left: I don’t understand why only one poem was installed in this new section.

Right: This section of sidewalk appear to be relatively new. Why weren’t poems installed here?