Public Art Grant
ACHF Arts Access ACHF Arts Education ACHF Cultural Heritage
The entrance gateway and plaza in the Elk River Community Education Nature Explore Center has an attractive plaza with a beautiful and enticing entry feature with creative, informative signage that invites all to enter and interact with nature. Original artwork piques the imagination and attracts ongoing interest with an inviting natural area accessible to users of all abilities. There are new art features that encourage the public, especially children, to interact with nature while using or enjoying the artwork. The gateway and plaza is safe, durable, low-maintenance public art with scale, theme, and materials appropriate for use by young children year-round in a public setting. Finally, the artwork's design and theme unifies and contributes to the integrity of the area, blending the historic building and location with the unique natural setting.Measures of success for this project will include the following: as the project is implemented, we will track expenses compared to budget and the delivery timeline plus completion of all elements as defined by the contract (or as renegotiated to accommodate changing conditions). A report comparing budget to actual will enable us to measure project cost, and we can easily note whether work is completed within the agreed upon time frame. Finally, our own experiences will enable us to assess the level of customer service and satisfaction provided by the artist. Currently the Nature Explore Center is used for early childhood classes, programs, and events offered throughout the year. Although the area is open to the public, it attracts relatively few visitors beyond those involved in Handke's Early Childhood and Family programs and the surrounding neighborhood. We expect many more visitors once we have attractive, effective signage, a clearly defined entrance area, and art that entices the eye as well as the feet to enter. We will gauge and track the increase in use of the Nature Explore Center and historic Handke site, both for early childhood and other school programs, as well as general public use. Both observation and visitor comment sheets will be used to collect this information. We intend to define this unique public art as recognizable in our area as the cherry-and-spoon piece is for the Walker Art Center. When the community begins to talk about going to “the park with the jumping deer” or “the place with the heron archway,” we will know we have succeeded. Other indicators will be news coverage, people stopping to take photographs, and inquiries from other school districts, cities, and Nature Explore projects. Some of the measures will include noting visitor/community comments, installing a public comment kiosk at the site providing public users the chance to complete an evaluation/comment card at any hour of the day beyond our formal program uses, collecting news articles/reports, and logging inquiries received. Opportunities to engage students and their parents will increase dramatically with the addition of public art. We will solicit written evaluative comments as a part of our routine program evaluation at the end of every class and note student reactions in the school year following the art installation. The pieces planned for our project must withstand weather and human activity with only nominal effort and expense for maintenance. We will measure these results through maintenance records/expenses and safety issue logs.
Outcomes: 1. Entrance gateway, plaza and artwork installed. Result: Original artwork that piques the imagination and attracts ongoing interest has been installed as the entry feature to the Nature Explore Center. The plaza, a rock sit wall, and additional signage will be installed after renovations to the north wing of the Handke Center are completed, estimated completion fall 2014. Until then the area has a layer of mulch and simulated sit wall using bales. 2. The gateway and plaza is safe, durable, and low-maintenance. The theme and scale is appropriate for young children and also appeals to adults and older children. It has year round appeal and use. Result: The outcome was achieved. 3. The artwork’s design and theme unifies and contributes to the integrity of the area, blending the historic building and location with the natural setting. Result: The installation of the artwork does exactly what we set out to do. It is stunning. Measures of success: 1. We will track expenses and completion timeline. Result: The project finished on time and within the budget. 2. Use own experiences to assess the level of customer service and satisfaction provided by the artist. Result: Classes, weekdays, evenings and weekends use the Nature Explore Center regularly. The local paper provided excellent coverage of the installation and the artist with features in at least three issues of the paper. It also has been publicized in the Community Education Brochure, on the district website, through numerous e-mails, district Staff Happenings page and through an Independent School District 728 YouTube video. People drive by to view the art, they stop and take pictures and they visit the Nature Explore Center. Many positive comments have been shared about the creativity of the artist and the beauty the installation has added. While the installation was just completed in the fall, we feel the full impact of the artwork is yet to be realized. In the next year we plan to add the plaza, more signage, a place for comments. 3. Opportunities to engage students and their parents will increase dramatically with the addition of the public art. Result: We intend to continue to offer events and activities for public at the site and know the usage will only continue to grow. It has only been a few months since the installation, a successful Grand Opening was held with many community members and families participating. A Not So Scary Halloween event was held and there have been regular events on the Nature Explore Center and nearly daily use by classes. The Friends of Sherburne Wildlife Refuge received a grant to install a full-sized replica of an Eagle’s Nest on the Nature Explore Center. Part of this installation includes cross promotion of the Nature Explore Center at the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge and vice versa. We anticipate that will increase our audience and the awareness of the Nature Explore Center and the Gateway. 4. Nominal effort and expense will be required for long-term maintenance of the installation. Result: We will keep records of maintenance needed. The artwork was installed so that the archway and deer could be removed during the building renovations and then reinstalled when the remodel is completed. Engineers, architects, district Manager of Building and Grounds and the district Director of Community Engagement all worked with the artist on this plan. All kept in mind the need to protect the artwork and reinstall it intact.
Other, local or private