Connecting the dots between public and private funding, public space and public desire can be one of the biggest challenges in promoting arts and culture within a community.
A new job in Oklahoma City's Planning Department is intended to make it easier.
Robbie Kienzle, an urban planner with the city for 15 years, began work as Oklahoma City's arts and cultural affairs liaison this month.
The position, one of a net gain of 85 city jobs in the fiscal year that began July 1, essentially makes Kienzle the city's one-woman office charged with helping to implement its goals in arts development.
And the goals are still being finalized. One of Kienzle's first tasks is to help finish a comprehensive plan for public arts improvement in Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma City Council voted three years ago to spend 1 percent of the city's construction budget on art in public spaces, and Kienzle will help coordinate ideas on how to spend it.
“I'm researching different comprehensive plans right now, looking at their scope and what they cost. That will be one of the first big pieces of creating all the policies and guidelines of the 1 percent,” she said.
Kienzle could potentially have more than just city money to use when looking at ways to put more art in public spaces. Public and private grant money is available for many projects, but coming up with a plan good enough to win the grant, matching the funding with respected local artists and finding display space involves getting a lot of people around the same metaphorical table.
There are so many people with so many great ideas and so much great intent behind them, but helping them connect the dots to make action happen faster and easier, that's where I really see a lot of the work I'm going to do,” Kienzle said. “There are a lot of people that just need to meet other people.”
Kienzle will also oversee the city's Arts Commission, which vets arts projects for the city council, and manages the city's existing arts collection.
Kienzle has been involved in public arts projects dating from the original MAPS project two decades ago, and is a former director of the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts with deep roots in the local arts community.
Advancement of the arts has been a hallmark of Oklahoma City's investment in itself over those two decades, with beneficiaries ranging from the Civic Center Music Hall of the brick-and-mortar variety, to the Plaza District and Paseo when it comes to targeted development zones.
Continuing Oklahoma City's momentum from a quality of life standpoint has been an oft-stated goal by city council members, and by city residents in surveys. So Kienzle's task is to keep the city on that path by helping to guide its resources to areas where its residents can enjoy the arts.
“We've seen the power of leveraging that kind of public investment, and beautifying our city and calling attention to its beauty,” she said.