Assemblywoman Allocates $500K for Newport Sculpture Garden, Arts Education

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The rotating Newport Beach Sculpture Exhibition in Civic Center Park.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Newport’s newly elected assemblywoman is in the process of following through on a campaign promise of bringing money back to the district, as she has earmarked half a million dollars to the locally loved Newport Beach Sculpture Exhibition at Civic Center Park and arts education programs for the city.

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, who represents Newport Beach in district 74, allocated $500,000 in the 2019-20 state budget for city of Newport Beach Arts Commission, specifically for arts education programs.

At their July 11 meeting, the Arts Commission briefly mentioned it, noting that it was potentially for the Civic Center Park sculpture exhibition.

An early priority was to meet with local government in district to talk about priorities for each of the communities in the district, Petrie-Norris said during a phone interview on Wednesday.

It was a priority for her to partner with local officials and this is a good example of doing just that, she emphasized.

“As we’re shaping policy and making decisions, we need to have everyone working together,” Petrie-Norris said.

She met with Newport Beach City Council members and City Manager Grace Leung shortly after the election.

Cottie Petrie-Norris, assemblywoman for the 74th Assembly district, which covers Newport Beach.
— Photo courtesy Petrie-Norris for Assembly 2018

Her goal for the meeting was to identify needs in an effort to bring money back to district 74 in Orange County.

Councilman Jeff Herdman apparently mentioned sculpture garden to her and the potential for arts educations programs.

She was excited when she heard about the idea.

“I think arts and arts education programs are chronically underfunded across the state and country,” Petrie-Norris said, so this is a valuable project to be undertaking for the city and the region, she added.

All over the world pubic art and architecture projects attract people and draw tourism, Petrie-Norris commented. It can be a great local resource for schools as well, she added.

They are in the process of finalizing the scope of the program and working with the city, Petrie-Norris confirmed.

Although they are still in the very early stages of processing the funds, ideas about how to use the money focus around educational programs, including possibly working with the local school district.

“START Now” by Scott Froschauer and David Boyer’s “Getting Your Bearings” at the Newport Beach Civic Center Park sculpture exhibition.
— Photo by Christopher Trela ©

Council has to vote to accept the funds and then the city can enter into memorandum of understanding with the state. This is likely to happen over the next several months, but as officials on both city and state levels emphasized, it is still too early to confirm anything.

The city is currently in discussions with the Assemblywoman’s office to understand the purpose for these grant funds, the requirements associated with the funds, and the process to apply and receive the funds, Leung confirmed in an email Tuesday.

“Once we have a better understanding of the specifics, the City Council will consider the funding at an upcoming Council meeting for approval and appropriation,” Leung said.

The Commission has no official comment on the funds at the moment, Chair Arlene Greer said at the Arts Commission July 11 meeting. They are waiting for Council to review and accept the funds.

Commissioner Ritch LeGrand mentioned the funds at the meeting and asked about the process.

Anytime the city receives a grant, the City Council must first officially accept the grant, Carol Jacobs explained. They need a little more clarification on the requirements, she added, and the rules from the state can be “complicated and specific.”

“We want to make sure that we’re up to speed on that,” Jacobs said.

Newport Beach City Arts Commission, curatorial panelists, and members of the public tour the Civic Center Park in early 2019.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Commissioners agreed that, when the time is appropriate, they will officially thank the Council and anyone who specifically helped in the effort to acquire the funds.

“It’s such a great thing to… potentially have happen, unless there’s this big ball of string that goes around it that we can’t deal with it,” LeGrand said, although he feels confident because “there’s smart people (on staff) that will make it work.”

Petrie-Norris has visited the sculpture exhibition at the park in the past, but has not seen the newest set installed in June. She plans on seeing it soon, she noted.

“It’s a beautiful space and an amazing resource,” Petrie-Norris said.

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