News Flash: There is already a grant on the table for $10,000 from Lifetime Fitness that calls for a sculpture committee to be formed!
This is a web version of a booklet that you can download in PDF form here.
This booklet and website are intended to look at the issues involved, take a quick look at what other towns have done, and gather feedback from Burlingtonians about this sculpture park idea.
Burlington is known too much by outsiders for The Mall, and for the office parks along 95. The sculpture park would let the world know that there is another side to Burlington.
Burlington has a healthy business climate, a strong community spirit, but has a somewhat low profile in terms of arts and culture. The sculpture park would be a step towards bringing the arts to a higher profile.
Cambridge and Somerville have stronger cultural profiles, which gives them an advantage in terms of locating high tech firms there that hire younger people. The sculpture park would change the perception of Burlington among young professionals and business looking to relocate.
There is an active arts and sculpture program at the High School. The sculpture park could be a way for young people to show their work and to build a portfolio.
What else? The sculpture park would make the town center a great place to walk to, and a delight for children of all ages.
We already have funds from grants and will seek more. Local developers have been including sculpture grants in their proposals.
If residents like the sculpture park and want to see it expand, we could seek moderate funding from the town.
Initially, the town would only be responsible for placing the sculptures in the park, which is not expensive.
Would businesses contribute?
They already have and it is very likely that local businesses, large and small, would contribute to the cost of installation, and perhaps an occasional sculpture that is commissioned.
There are a wide variety of state and private funds that would be available to help defray any costs that did arise.
For historical reasons, Burlington does not have the kind of memorable New England style town center that many nearby towns have.
This is not something that can easily be changed.
By contrast, Burlington has a pleasant open common and a lovely pine woods in the center of our town.
While nobody would suggest we develop these open spaces, they can seem a bit empty when compared to the busy downtown areas of nearby towns.
This is why the center of town is such an interesting candidate for a sculpture park: we can keep all this land open and simply add a bit of magic to it
We are following common practice by providing a $2500 stipend to sculptors for works we accept. The stipend will cover their work delivery of the work and an exhibit it for 2 years.
We are also asking for an option to purchase any works that the town becomes particularly fond of; the price being set by the sculptor.
Sculptors may participate in educational programs with our schools as part of the process of bring their work to our town.
We are in an ongoing process of fund raising among town businesses and have aleady received generous funding from the Nordblom Corporation, a major developer in Burlington.
We are also planning to have student works on display in conjunction with the Burlington Schools. Grants may help pay for materials.
Modern sculptures can be colorful and easily appreciated by a wide ranges of audiences, old and young.
We would create a set of guidelines describing the sort of works we want for our town – and don’t want.
As this is a municipal project, we would be likely to avoid strongly political statements or work that is upsetting to people.
Private collections are more appropriate places for more provocative work; ours should be exciting, interesting, and hopefully beloved by the community.
There is a wide range of work out there:
Our goal would be to attract work that is interesting to a wide range of people.
In particular, we might consider works that people can engage with, by safely climbing on them, or playing with them like the Matisse work at DeCordova.
There would have to be a committee of interested people, possibly appointed from among Town Meeting members, in a similar fashion to the Ways and Means Committee or the Land Use Committee.
We would see how other towns have approached the process of finding a committee.
By placing the park in the center of town where the police are already on 24-hour duty, the park would already have a measure of protection.
Sculptors would have to agree that the town is not liable for damage to their work, as part of the agreement.
Sculptors would be encouraged to create works that are robust and resistant to damage, and easily cleaned in case of spray paint.
There is no guarantee against vandalism: even the ducklings in the Public Garden are vandalized on occasion, but it seems more than worth the risk.
Wikipedia has a long list of sculpture parks in the US and around the world.\
Many are associated with art museums and colleges, but there are also many that are town or city operated.
Many are associated with local art associations which is another missing component of Burlington life.
A sculpture park might be a step towards a more active cultural life and a major Burlington Art Association.
Here is the Wikipedia list of sculpture parks in the US and worldwide.
We foresee having a major ongoing relationship with the school system. One of the Committee members is from the schools.
We might have a student section, where new works are chosen annually. The Skokie park has such a student section.
It might be possible to partner with an existing art institution, but we would have to have good reasons for doing so.
Partnering is more complex and might make it more difficult for the park to reflect the desires of Burlington residents.
As there is not a major cost associated with this effort, there may not be a compelling reason to partner with an existing institution.
The Park could be done in different ways: all in one area, or spread around town.
One obvious area to look at is the town center, along the unused parts of Simonds Park and the Common. Perhaps near town buildings.
It is also possible for the sculptures to be spread all around the town, if citizens would like to see this approach.
It seems clear that a sculpture park would change the way our town center is perceived. Clearly, it would depend on the specific sculptures on exhibit. But how would it change the experience of driving or walking through town center?
Imagine the woods transformed into a bit of enchanted forest, with shapes, animals, and other things to discover.
(We foresee this done in such a way as to avoid conflict with the existing, popular frisbee golf course.)
There is no reason that sculpture could not appear in other parts of Burlington, making all walkable areas more enjoyable and interesting.
But the center of town is an area that seems like a natural focus point to start with, and area that would benefit most from the sculpture park.
Could the sculpture park become too successful and create a unwanted traffic and too many visitors?
If you judge by the numbers that visit the nearby DeCordova sculpture garden, it seems unlikely that we would have a problem. (On the other hand, the DeCordova is not free, and is actually a bit pricey.)
In the event that we succeeded too much, we can simply cut back on the program, modify the size or flavor or the work.
And in the very worst case, we can simply declare it a great experiment and remove all of the work.
The current plan of the Burlington Sculpture Park Committee is to have actual works in place by June 2020! Fill out the form below to stay informed.
If you would like to be part of the effort to establish a sculpture park in Burlington, fill out the form below. (If that won't work for you, get in touch with Jon Sachs at email@example.com or leave a message at 781-272-1989.)
This process is just beginning and we need enthusiastic people to join.
And if you have some strong objection to this project please send your respectful feedback.
Just a few sculpture links:
Skokie Sculpture Park
Des Moines Sculpture Park
Laumeir Sculpture Park
Michigan Legacy Artpark
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
DeCordova Museum, Lincoln
New England Sculptors Assn
National Sculpture Society