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The Artsy Side of Canton Made Official

Canton is excited to be the first city in the county to adopt a Public Art Master Plan! In April 2022, the Canton Cultural Arts Commission (CCAC) issued a request for proposals to create the plan for the city. Ohio-based firm Designing Local was selected, and through the process, they spent countless hours interviewing elected officials, City staff, commission members, local artists, and other stakeholders by publishing online surveys and holding a public input session. After compiling all the feedback, the firm worked with City staff to draft a Public Art Master Plan that will be unique to Canton. That plan was officially approved and adopted at the City Council meeting on July 20.

"The coming public art investments will be a tool to communicate that Canton cares seriously about creativity while providing one-of-a-kind experiences to its residents, further cementing their connection to the place they love most," said Amanda Golden, Designing Local.

The Public Art Master Plan is a result of many hours of conversation with stakeholders and members of the public. The team worked diligently to engage a variety of community members from November 2022 until May 2023. The results of the surveys illustrate the community's opinion and pulse on public art and inform future plans.

"After over a year of collaboration between the CCAC, elected officials, City staff, and the community, I am thrilled to have a tangible plan for the Cultural Arts Commission's vision to make Canton a more beautiful place by celebrating the creativity, diversity, and history of the city," said Kristin Norton Green, Theatre Events & Facilities director.

Residents stated they'd like to see more public art in downtown Canton, at gateways, and in parks and natural spaces. Desired art themes are those that incorporate history and nature as well as works that are interactive. Survey results also indicated that many see Canton as inclusive, friendly, growing, and small-town, and what makes the city unique is the river, its downtown, and its natural spaces.

Public art will play a crucial role in Canton, ensuring high-quality experiences for residents, supporting the broader economy, and reinforcing the identity of a place. The following core values for the Public Art Master Plan will be used when implementing public art projects:

Celebrate Canton — Tell stories that are unique to the history, natural setting, and/or culture of Canton.
Support Artists — Present a wide variety of meaningful public art from artists with varied experience levels, inclusive of all people and backgrounds.
Build Community — Build awareness and enthusiasm for the city by connecting residents to one another through investment in public art.

Artwork types may include but are not limited to sculpture, murals or portable paintings, functional art, lighting installations, site-specific, pop-up and temporary, and community participatory.

Canton Cultural Arts Commission
In the summer of 2021, the mayor and City Council created the CCAC and appointed citizens Rob Walker-Bunda, Elaine Federico, Jamie Foreman, Amy Kesler, Theresa Shampine, Haley Whyte, and staff liaison Norton Green to lead the charge.

"The vision of the CCAC is for the streets, parks, events, sites, and lives of Canton's citizens to be made more beautiful and meaningful through a collective and sustained effort to incorporate, celebrate and promote the Arts in Canton,"
explained Green.

Since its inception, the Commission has completed three mural projects: Canton GA Wildflower Mural by Madison Beaulieu; It's a Vibe! by Lauren Palotta Stumberg; and Unite! — a collaborative project between Cherokee HS student Emily Hamilton, nonprofit Art in the Paint, and Walker-Bunda.

During these two years, there have also been numerous opportunities for education and collaboration with groups such as the Fox Theatre Institute, Georgia Council for the Arts, Atlanta Regional Commission, and the Georgia Municipal Association. 

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