On January 4, 2017, the Art Commission heard a proposal by Intersection and City of Philadelphia to deaccession (aka take down, sell, or possibly repurpose) the public art bus shelters on Chestnut Street from 7th to 17th Street. Scenic Philadelphia President Mary Tracy presented emails from the public as part of a testimony against the removal of the public art displays on 11 bus shelters.
The proposal involves the public art bus shelters being replaced by new shelters with seating, lighting, and digital advertising like the one below. The city officials and Intersection argued that the art shelters must be replaced, cannot be repaired, and the public art could not be preserved. The Art Commission strongly spoke out against the removal of the public art in replace of ads, especially since no feasibility study was done regarding the cost of repairing, rather than replacing the art shelters. Further, given that the public art shelters account for only 11 of the 600 bus shelters in the Intersection contract, the Art Commission disregarded Intersection’s claim that replacing the art shelters with ad shelters is necessary to finance the cost of the contract.
Intersection and the city withdrew today’s proposal and agreed to develop a preservation feasibility study and meet with a sub-committee of the Art Commission to develop a plan. The public comment emails presented by Scenic Philadelphia helped strengthen the arguments made against today’s proposal. It makes a critical difference when the Art Commission hears from the public. The heartfelt emails describing how important these public art displays are to Philadelphia and its citizens resonated with the Art Commission, who echoed your sentiments. Thank you for helping us be a public voice for public space!
Feel free to send the Art Commission a thank you (firstname.lastname@example.org).