Franklin Working on Guidelines for Public Art Ordinance

It’s obvious to Franklin’s administrators that the city is full of artists.

Displayed every month, the Franklin Art Scene spans across blocks of downtown, showcasing talented local artisans and their works. But aside from the one month pop-up, Franklin is largely void of art, an effort some would like to see changed

In light of that, the city’s creatives have started vying for a Franklin Public Art program, which would set up guidelines to having art displayed around town.

Here’s what the guidelines for the program look like: 

1) Interweave art with the urban fabric;
2) Create a unique image and sense of place;
3) Encourage positive civic discourse;
4) Celebrate historic events and persons;
5) Inspire, educate, beautify and give character to public places;
6) Provide opportunities to facilitate the community values of inclusion, civic pride, cultural diversity and appreciation of the creative spirit;
7) Enhance the visibility and stature of Franklin in local, regional, national, and international arenas; and
8) Foster collective memory and give meaning to place by recalling local and regional history.

Franklin Assistant City Administrator Vernon Gerth said they have been working on the program and the potential ordinance since the summer.

“We first had the idea from several citizens,” Gerth said. “Staff has met with this group every few weeks, beginning by researching a number of other communities.

“What would a public art program look like in Franklin initially? We learned there’s a wide range of program types, from those who have a funding mechanism to a not-for-profit to something more generic, which is what we are proposing. We want a commission appointed that could review and make recommendations to an elected body to have the final say of what’s on non-residential or public property.”

Within the definitions of what’s considered art in the guidelines range from frescoes to topiaries with much in between.

The group has researched public art programs from cities in California to those much closer to home in Nashville and Chattanooga. They’ve also used ideas from Franklin’s Sister Cities, and those officials have visited on visionary trips.

In all, they used wording and propositions from about 25 others who already have programs in place.

“As we worked on these guidelines, we shared them with a broader group of citizens who have expressed support and interest,” Gerth said. “We aren’t doing this in a box. It’s been an exciting project, and we wanted to make sure we are going in the right direction that moves us forward to put something into our municipal code.”

Here are the rough draft guidelines the group has created so far:

  1. Artwork must be consistent with the Scope of the Collection and the Franklin Public Art Program Purpose and Mission.
  2. Artwork should be of exceptional quality and enduring value as judged by the FPAC.
  3. Strong preference is given to artwork that is unique or of a limited edition.
  4. Permanently sited artwork shall relate to the architectural, historical, geographical, and/or sociocultural context of the site.
  5. Funding and documentation for the installation, future maintenance, and decommissioning shall be included in an application and FPAC recommendation.
  6. As applicable, the artwork shall meet City structural, building, right-of-way, electrical, and other codes for safety.
  7. As applicable, the artwork shall be accessible to all people and meet Federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
  8. Artwork must be durable for outdoors and in good condition.
  9. Existing artwork shall have provenance information establishing clear title.

And while downtown is a clear choice to display pieces, the group wanted to ensure art could go throughout all of Franklin.

“It’s two different discussions,” Visit Franklin CEO Ellie Westman Chin said. “Doing something in the historic overlay is special. But then you go to Cool Springs and it could be different. We wanted to make sure it was all of Franklin and no just one part of Franklin. ”

Emily West covers Franklin, education, and high school football for the Franklin Home Page. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.