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Arts for Transit Program at the Train Station - No Time Soon....

Several weeks ago, I tossed an idea out there for a mural/mosaic of some sort to be created inside the tunnel at the train station. Cabot let me know that any public art at the station has to go through the MTA's Arts for Transit Program. They commission the art, and have a Call for Artists to submit their potential project. So, I contacted them to find out where Beacon stands on their list, and when we'd have a Call for Artists.

So, I had to email 4 times before I got a response saying they were looking into it. A week later, I got the brush-off email:

Dear Venessa,

Thank you for your interest in MTA Arts for Transit permanent art program. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with an estimated time frame of when a Call to Artists will be issued for artwork at the MNR Beacon Station. Presently, there are no scheduled plans to undertake a rehabilitation of the station. Please feel free to check with us next year. In addition, you may visit our website to check on other available artist calls at www.mta/aft/mta/aft . Again, thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,
Katherine Meehan
MTA Arts for Transit


I emailed back again, asking if there's a chance that we may be able to do a more community-driven approach, and allow our local artists to take charge of the project and get it moving forward. To which she responded:

Dear Venessa:

Thanks for your email and your interest in having artwork at the Beacon Station.

To explain a little about our process, the selection of artwork for stations throughout the MTA system is done through MTA Arts for Transit Permanent Art Program. Our program is funded through MTA's Capital Program for the rehabilitation or construction of new stations. When a station is renovated, a portion of the funds is used to provide permanent art. As previously indicated, there are no scheduled plans through the Capital Program for the rehabilitation of the Beacon Station since the station is in good condition. Once a station is scheduled to be rehabilitated and monies are allocated, we commence a selection process for permanent art.

When a station is scheduled for rehabilitation, Arts for Transit works closely with the architects and engineers during the design phase to determine the most appropriate art location as well as the medium. Depending upon the project, artists may be considered through an Open Call or Invitational process. Artwork is chosen through a competitive process using selection panels comprised of arts professionals and community representatives. During an Open Call process, we send a Call to Artists inviting them to submit images of previous works. We make sure to do special outreach to artists in the area where the station is being rehabilitated. During the first selection meeting, the panelists review the submissions and select approximately 4 finalists to submit site specific proposals. The artists are given a stipend and depending on the project about six weeks to submit their proposals. The panelists then reconvene and select one proposal for the station. Our selection process has proven very successful since the artwork is part of the redesign of the station. We currently have over 200 projects installed throughout the MTA system. Because these are government procurements and we must use a fair and equal process for selection, we do not generally undertake community driven or grass-roots approach for the selection of artwork. We are aware of the vibrant artist community in Beacon and look forward to reaching out to them once there are scheduled plans to rehabilitate the station.

Again, thank you for your interest and feel free to check with us next year.

Sincerely,
Katherine Meehan
MTA Arts for Transit


Shot down! I guess MTA doesn't want to play with us. If tenacity might make a difference in their response, you're welcome to contact them and give er a go. Here are the 2 people with whom I had corresponded:

Katherine Meehan KMEEHAN@mtahq.org
Amy Hausmann AHAUSMAN@mtahq.org

Views: 320

Tags: art, artsfortransit, mosaic, mural, publicart, train, trainstation

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Comment by Hollis Bogdanffy-Kriegh on June 6, 2009 at 9:43am
Hi, This is actually a fascinating discussion. I am new here (to BCN and the city) and I think it might just be a matter of keeping after the MTA even if it takes a few years. I think Eric's points are well taken, however, I believe we have a unique situation here with a large pool of artists and talented, willing workers. The Beacon train station may be in "good shape" but it stinks and is ugly. It its the portal to our city, Dia, and soon Long Dock and the Clearwater Foundation. I would hope that petitioning the city council to press the MTA to support community driven initiatives would help. Community pressure stopped the destruction of trees on Main St. I think some creativity and positive pressure might help in this instance too. As for bicycle parking, I certainly think petitioning for that is a no brainer. Beacon is becoming an eco-center. Given the awful state of mass transit here, biking to the station should totally be encouraged. Just my 2 or three cents. Thanks Venessa, I share your vision.
Comment by Dan Rigney on April 28, 2009 at 10:25pm
To add to Cabot's statement, there is also NEA ARRA money that is pending to umbrella agencies for regranting. Dutchess County Arts Council applied for one of these grants and as far as I know is still awaiting notice. Those awards should be announced in May or June sometime. I do not know if any Beacon orgs worked with the DCAC on that grant and would therefore be in line for stimulus $$ should the proposal be approved. As with NYSCA, there is likely to be an emphasis on programs and/or positions under threat of being cut as a result of the economic downturn which was one of the stated criteria in the NEA ARRA rfp. There was in this same round of RFP's an opportunity for arts orgs to apply for direct NEA funding to support salaries and/or artist fees that were under threat of cut due to the downturn, but the criteria there required the org had to have previously received an NEA grant in at least one of the last 4 years. Other than DIA, I know of no other organizations in Beacon that would fit that criteria.
Comment by Cabot Parsons on April 28, 2009 at 9:31pm
I doubt it will either.

The federal stimulus package arts money is being funneled through the National Endowment for the Arts to two organizations that cover our area. NYSCA, which received $399,000 is using their funds to specifically support at risk positions in nonprofits that would be lost otherwise to the downturn. Read all about it here -

http://nysca.org/public/resources/recoveryfaq.htm

This means that in Beacon proper only Dia: Beacon probably qualifies. The Howland Cultural Center has no paid staff, so no funds can be applied for through them. Up until lately the history of Beacon's performing and visual arts has been mostly commercial, not nonprofit, so wouldn't apply. If Beacon Cultural Foundation was still in operation with what is now Beacon Studios, they'd probably qualify to keep their administrative position.

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the regional funder for New York State among others, received $519,800 but has yet to announce any special opportunities for these funds to be made available for individual groups or municipalities. I'm keeping my eye out to see when they do, and if anything applies will pass it on to whoever might qualify.

There are other stimulus moneys going straight to municipalities and regional projects, which was covered in another thread here on BCN. What the city has applied for there would be a question for the city administrator, Meredith Robson.
Comment by Cabot Parsons on April 28, 2009 at 7:18pm
They actually just finished a station rehab a couple of years ago, which lead to the expansion of the canopy on the east lower entrance. But no art project attached. Think we could guilt them into doing a little something, something to make up for it?
Comment by Venessa Miemis on April 28, 2009 at 2:38pm
steve, the tunnel is mta's property, and they are not going to allow an art installation until the station needs 'rehabilitation', which could be years from now...so get your night crew assembled.
Comment by Steve Knowles on April 28, 2009 at 10:47am
Just saw the comment about the smell after I posted. (I did notice that they must have pressure-washed the area, or something, recently, so it's not so bad right now)
Comment by Steve Knowles on April 28, 2009 at 10:45am
Of course, a crack team (a team of highly skilled and efficient people, rather than drug-crazed) could apply a nice design at some time during the night.
Comment by Steve Knowles on April 28, 2009 at 10:44am
It would be nice to do something about the drab look of that stairway tunnel! (and help take our minds off the urine smell that usually seems to be there)

I would volunteer to help paint a mural if you get something going. It would seem that if a mural design is "sketched" out on the wall, various sections could be painted by individuals using some master color scheme (like a giant paint by numbers, if pure colors are used without gradients).
Comment by Birdy on April 27, 2009 at 5:04pm
If you get on their mailing list, you will get the call for arts. Recently, they sent out calls for Ossinging and another station on the other Hudson line.

Hopefully the new parking lot people will monitor it better. Limit amount of taxis's there at one time and cut down on the drug dealing--and the smell in the tunnel. Which is better this week
Comment by Venessa Miemis on April 27, 2009 at 7:25am
yes, on to the next.

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