It’s an apparent case of déjà vu all over again as Charlottesville city government has been caught afresh violating another of its own preposterous edicts.
In December of last year, Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris publicly endorsed a frivolous city-backed initiative entitled, “Buy Art Give Art Charlottesville,” which was based on a similar program in Providence, Rhode Island. The launch was introduced via official press release from city spokesman, Ric Barrick, in which the initiative was described as:
A partnership between the City of Charlottesville, Piedmont Council for the Arts, and local artists and arts organizations, Buy Art Give Art is designed to increase the visibility and economic support of the visual arts by promoting a compelling message to the general public.
And what is the compelling message? According to the Charlottesville Department of Economic Development there are two:
Message 1: The recent economic downturn has hit our local visual arts community hard.
Message 2: A vibrant and healthy visual arts scene is a critical piece of the local and tourism-related economy.
And the stated goal for this taxpayer-backed program?
…[To] remind area citizens to consider purchasing one-of-a-kind, locally created artwork – of all sizes and price ranges — from our galleries, studios, and other venues that sell art.
And the proposed method of “reminding” citizens to “buy local art”?
- Bright green “Buy Art Give Art” bumper stickers
- Similarly designed “Buy Art Give Art” lapel buttons
And the “key” campaign component in convincing Charlottesvillians to alter their art-purchasing behavior?
Special-edition Buy Art Give Art buttons that display images of local artwork and will be given in gratitude to anyone who buys a piece of art from a participating vendor
The celluloid buttons themselves become the focus of the press release as they are described by artist, Kate Barton:
“The limited edition buttons are each a piece of art themselves. People should take pride in supporting local artists by wearing the buttons on their jackets, totes and messenger bags. It will also encourage others to consider buying local art when shopping for gifts.”
The kickoff publicity and related handouts for Buy Art Give Art cost city taxpayers a cool $2,000. Chump change to Democrat Norris, perhaps, but a needless waste of taxpayer dollars in financially troubled times.
In spite of all the hoopla, the Mayor’s “endorsement,” and the green buttons and stickers, City Hall Democrats apparently did not receive the “buy local art” memo. An internal coterie, spearheaded by Democrat Councilor Satyendra Huja, currently is conspiring to drop valuable tax dollars on an expensive piece of “non-native” art.
At hand is the proposed city purchase of “Azure,” a “stone butterfly” sculpture that has been displayed as part of Charlottesville’s taxpayer-underwritten ArtInPlace program (a privately run, quasi-governmental “non profit” of which Huja is a board member).
Unaware of (or unconcerned with) their own decree to “buy local,” purchase negotiations have been ongoing for months between Charlottesville City Hall and the sculpture’s North Carolina based artist, Philip Kyle Hathcock, who values his masterpiece at $25,000.
No matter the final negotiated price for the City’s proposed “foreign” art purchase, if completed funding likely will come from the Charlottesville’s “percent for art” slush fund—coincidentally contrived by Mr. Huja prior to his council tenure—and currently overflowing with $118,000 surplus taxpayer dollars.
And what of ArtInPlace? The consortium of wealthy Democrat elitists who comprise the “non profit” organization continue to profit from the largess of wealthy Democrat elitists in Charlottesville City Hall, courtesy of hapless and unrepresented Charlottesville taxpayers. In addition to specific “art” purchases, annual city support for ArtInPlace totals $19,000—this for a program that was slated by former Charlottesville City Manager Gary O’Connell to be “self sufficient” and off the city dole more than five years ago.
In an effort to obfuscate, City Hall Democrats have removed ArtInPlace funding as a direct line item in the city’s annual budget document. Instead they’ve cleverly chosen to fund the “non profit” contractually through the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department, thus sparing Councilor Huja—the clandestine ArtInPlace board member—an abstention embarrassment. Council’s side benefit of the reclassification: public discussion and criticism of the program effectively has been abrogated.
Aside from the unnecessary and extravagant ongoing purchases of “public” art for the personal pleasure of Democrat parvenu, hypocrisy abounds in Charlottesville City Hall. The elected and appointed Democrat cabal, led by Mayor Dave Norris, once again has squandered thousands of taxpayer dollars concocting yet another extrinsic “buy local” scheme, which the city itself has freely disregarded.