Chapel Hill Announces New Public Arts Administrator

Today the Town Manager of Chapel Hill announced the new position of Public Arts Administrator. This position will lead the Percent for Art program and other public art initiatives. This role had been handled by the Chapel Hill Public Arts Commission, and its staff. While I was chair of the commission several years, the former Town Manager asked us, a volunteer board with paid staff, to incorporate as 501c3 non-profit rather than become part of the town, as we recommended. Now under a new Town Manager, a new town position is created to serve this function. I understand there may now be two public art boards: a town commission and a board of the non-profit for fund-raising.

By the way, Jeff York, the new administrator, is a great guy and will do a great job in his new position.

Here’s the press release from the Town of Chapel Hill website:

Town Manager Roger L. Stancil announced his decision today (Thursday, April 24) to appoint Jeffrey York, director of public art and community design for the NC Arts Council, as the new public arts administrator for the Town of Chapel Hill. He is scheduled to start on June 15.

“Chapel Hill has a broad range of public art programs that involve residents in creating, viewing and talking about art and that place temporary and permanent art works throughout the Town.” Stancil said. “Jeffrey is the ideal person to work with the Town and its Public Arts Advisory Commission. He will facilitate the transition of the public art staff to Town staff and current independent board to an advisory role. Our goal is to integrate public art into the context of what the Town does every day.”

“We appreciate the Manager’s determination to appoint someone with the mix of skills, experience and vision needed to build successfully on Chapel Hill’s thriving public art program,” said Frank Webb, chair of the Public Arts Commission. “We all look forward to working with Jeffrey in his (and our) new role.”

As public art and community design director for the Raleigh-based North Carolina Arts Council, York facilitated public art and cultural facility design activities and processes to communities statewide. He initiated a public art in the schools residency program and maintained an 86-piece public art collection located throughout North Carolina.

Previously, York was executive director of the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont and education director at the Birmingham (Ala.) Museum of Art. He also was education curator and assistant curator for the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y. He has two master’s degrees, in the history of art from Ohio State University and in library science and information studies from Syracuse University.

“Chapel Hill offers a receptive environment to develop a model public art program in North Carolina and beyond,” York said. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with town staff and the community to build such a program.”

The Chapel Hill Town Council in March 2002 established the Town’s Percent for Art Ordinance, which allocates 1 percent of selected capital projects for the creation and maintenance of permanent works of public art. Funding for Percent for Art projects comes from each selected project’s construction budget. In North Carolina, the only other cities with percent-for-art programs are Asheville and Charlotte.

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