This week art collectives were invited to the White House to discuss public art and “the issues related to the disappearance of common access to public space”. The Wooster collective was just one of 60 organizations dedicated to grassroots art initiatives that met with officials in the Obama Administration “to listen and learn what the administration was thinking in regards to the arts, to ask questions, and then to participate in working sessions” on issues they felt passionate about.
The role that public art plays in city life is an interesting topic to explore, especially the relationship between commissioned public works and spontaneous street art. Public art often enriches a community’s positive sense of identity and helps enhances roadsides, pedestrian corridors, and community gateways; but spontaneous street art can also have a strong influence on a community, and street art is universal. Its experimental nature, outside the realm of cultural institutions, can challenge perceptions of public space and can open dialogues with the surrounding environment. It is interesting to see the White House taking an interest to meet with artists and artists collectives to open up a dialogue about the arts, and the importance of public art to education, civic life and community building.