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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Valley Arts Council falls far short of funding plans

Moon,  part of the “Dance of Sun & Moon,” sculpture by Jerry McKellar, is installed at Mirabeau Point Park in Spokane Valley. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Valley City Council approved an agreement with the Spokane Valley Arts Council to bring a seventh sculpture to the city.

City Council modified an agreement with the Spokane Valley Arts Council at a Dec. 18 council meeting to approve the sculpture, “If I Could But Fly,” by Bob Wilfong, instead of a previously agreed upon sculpture, “Rock Star,” also by Wilfong.

Every year, the city sets aside funds in its budget for nonprofit organizations that promote economic development or social services. The organizations request funding through an application process that includes a presentation and a description of how funding will be used in the next year.

The city allocated $200,000 in its 2019 budget toward funding nonprofit organizations.

An application submitted by the Spokane Valley Arts Council in September included a request for $103,150, with $80,000 of that amount to be used for production and casting of “Rock Star.”

The Arts Council was awarded $24,105 by the city at an Oct. 23 meeting, but the organization claimed they will not be able to afford to commission “Rock Star” with the allocation awarded to them.

James Harken, art director of the Spokane Valley Arts Council, proposed that City Council approve “If I Could But Fly” at a cost of $29,500.

“It’s a very nice sculpture. The artist is very proud of it,” he said. “The one thing it does not have that the first one has is the first one has only been placed one place in the United States. It’s a singular piece. It’s a monumental piece that the people who work on tourism can really use to bring people into this place because it can’t be seen anywhere else.”

Spokane Valley Councilman Ben Wick asked Harken if it would behoove the arts council to use $24,109 in funding toward its other programs, such as scholarships and apply for funding next year to secure “Rock Star.”

Harken said he prefers to use funding on a one-year fiscal basis because the makeup of City Council may be different next year and it’s not guaranteed funding for the arts council will continue.

Harken also brought up concerns with coordinating delivery dates for the sculptures.

Councilman Arne Woodard said the arts council has worked hard to provide a variety of art and prefers moving forward with “If I Could But Fly” because the sculpture has already been cast by the artist.

“I think we can utilize that piece of art, whether it’s over at CenterPlace or someplace else in the Valley,” he said. “We have places we can put specific pieces of art. We just have to talk about it.”

The Spokane Valley Arts Council, a nonprofit association, has donated five sculptures to the city since 2009; three of those sculptures, “Berry Picker,” “Coup Ponies,” and “Woman With Horse” were placed outside of City Hall. Two sculptures, “Dance of Sun and Moon,” and “Working the Line” were installed near CenterPlace Regional Event Center.

City Council has yet to determine placement for a sixth sculpture, “Heart of the Valley.”