Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla signed an executive order last night to fund public art installations, a piece of local legislation he signed at the Waterfront Arts Gala.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Art is a fundamental part of improving quality of life, but it’s too often an afterthought. My Administration is committed to not only keep public arts projects funded, but on the forefront of my agenda as Mayor,” Bhalla said in a statement.
“I’m also proud to say Hoboken is one of the first municipalities in our state to adopt a ‘percent for art’ policy, and I encourage other municipalities to also invest in the arts.”
The order declares that all city bond ordinances shall be drafted to include a provision dedicating one percent towards public art installations.
The first implementation of the order will be an interactive sculpture at Southwest Park, which will be financed by the next bond ordinance. A community meeting on the sculpture will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 28 at the Southwest Park Terrance.
Additionally, the city would have allocated nearly $200,000 towards the public arts trust, based on figures from 2017.
The executive order was signed during the inaugural Waterfront Arts Gala, which raised funds for Hoboken’s Cultural Affairs department.
Ticket sales and donations from the sold-out event brought in more than $15,000 for the Cultural Affairs department.
The department does not receive funding from the city’s budget and relies on fundraisers, such as the gala, to finance year-round cultural and arts events.
1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, a fierce critic of Bhalla, said in his own statement that while he supports the arts, this order was never discussed with the council and the details appear vague.
“This is the first that members of the City Council have heard about this and it’s disingenuous how Mayor Bhalla continuously claims that Council members won’t work with him and then throws out a completely vague program with no Council or community discussion,” he said.
“The Council takes bonding and the expenditure of taxpayer dollars very seriously and that’s why this necessitates a careful review of debt spending, however I look forward to working with the administration to elevate the arts as a priority across Hoboken.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with a statement from 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco.