A local community dedicated to bringing art to their downtown area is going to continue to do so even though the cost is going up.

Over the past 4 years Fenton’s Downtown Development Authority has used the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit as a means of bringing a bit of culture to the city. DDA Chairman Craig Schmidt said it’s been well received by the community and they fully intend to continue leasing sculptures each year from the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, or MSI. Assistant City Manager Mike Hart however had to inform the DDA at their meeting Tuesday that the cost to participate is going to rise. Hart received a letter from MSI earlier this month informing him that in order to remain competitive with other similar exhibits, artist stipends needed to be increased. Where other exhibits are paying around $1,000, MSI has been paying $750, but now intends to raise that by $100. Along with an increase in their per sculpture rate of $50, the DDA’s budget would need to be increased by $1,200 if they want to keep receiving the same amount of art.

Schmidt said he felt good about continuing, especially considering how their place in the pecking order for picking what comes to Fenton keeps getting better each year.When the DDA began this program they were at the bottom of the 12-community list and had the last picks at what sculptures they would be able to lease. Hart said he has been informed that this coming year they have moved up to the third pick. The following year, for which they are already signed on for, will see them in the top spot having their choice of artwork to bring downtown.

The DDA Board discussed whether or not they needed to lease as many as they have been and if by ordering less some money can be saved. A recent gift of a butterfly sculpture from the Arts Council was also considered as a possible replacement for a statue. Hart said that no decisions needed to be made that night, but that these were things to consider before the next selection process begins. (MK)