Frisco government plans to form Frisco Arts Council

Make Frisco arts collective to serve as advisory committee

Summit County artist Andy Moran uses a roller to paint a mural on Main Street in Frisco on July 1. Frisco Town Council is seeking to increase its public art with the formation of an arts council.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

The town of Frisco is no stranger to public art. From sculptures commissioned in the ’90s to more than one Main Street mural created during the coronavirus pandemic, the town frequently aims to cultivate community character. Frisco Town Council plans to do that even more with the $50,000 budgeted toward art for 2022, as well as the formation of the new Frisco Arts Council.

“Public art is about expressing the character of the community and the soul of the community,” town spokesperson Vanessa Agee said during a council work session Nov. 9. “We’re seeing more and more demand for commissioned pieces. It’s an evolution of the amount of funding, as well.”

Agee went to Town Council to see if they supported the idea of an arts council, a five-year strategic arts plan and Make Frisco serving as an advisory committee to the new council. Town Council approved of all three ideas.

Town Council would appoint seven to nine people from diverse backgrounds — such as business owners, nonprofit leaders, creatives and potentially a high school student — for the arts council. Members would likely have to live or work in Frisco and meet once per month. They would serve staggered, two- or three-year terms.

Members of Make Frisco are welcome to apply for the arts council. Town Council member Melissa Sherburne spearheaded the formation of Make Frisco in 2019 with artists like painters, a photographer, a milliner, a coffee roaster, a landscape architect, musicians, a guitar maker and carpenter Andy Held before he was elected to Town Council.

Make Frisco’s first major project was the Frozen Frisco ice installations held in tandem with the Eat, Ski and Be Merry event in February 2020. Yet the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to other events planned for the year.

However, Make Frisco put on the Winter Light display in January, and the public art budget supported other initiatives, such as the Summit County Hope Project, the Black Lives Matter mural and a recent mountain mural by Andy Moran and Erica Rae Dove.

“One of the biggest challenges that we faced with Make Frisco — it was not for lack of enthusiasm at all, but we just didn’t have a plan,” Sherburne said. “And it’s not really a plan-minded group, either. It doesn’t really function that way. … For this to really come together, we do need a strategic plan.”

Council member Dan Fallon said he really liked how the arts could be an economic driver, such as possibly creating a residence campus for artists. He also liked how the plan gives a framework for the arts council.

“You’re creating a solid foundation upon which the commission is built,” Fallon said.

Council member Andrew Aerenson suggested they make art a part of every larger conversation, such as construction on Granite Street or new medians, rather than looking at the budget as a $50,000 check to spend.

“This is what grown-up towns do,” Aerenson said. “They have a coordinated body that facilitates art.”

However, he was a little hesitant to send out a request for a third-party consultant to put together the strategic art plan. He said he was consultant-fatigued and wondered whether the plan comes before or after the formation of the commission.

Sherburne seconded the fatigue, but she said the plan is vital to the success of the arts council. She said she wanted to get the ball rolling on the plan and commission at the same time.

“The strategic plan tiers off of the vision of our comprehensive plan, of our community, of our council, of our Make Frisco members,” Sherburne said. “… Almost in a way as the planning commission follows the lead of our planning guiding documents and code, the commission needs to respond and implement the strategic plan.”

The plan would outline topics like staffing, funding, community art projects, exhibition spaces as well as opportunities to purchase and commission art.

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