ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS (November 2, 2023) — The Moline Public Art Commission (MPAC) recently commissioned the largest mural project in the City of Moline, and quite possibly the Quad Cities. This mural project has garnered a lot of coverage from local media, and has started a great conversation around public art, which we LOVE! Some commenters have been vocal about their disappointment that this project did not go to a local artist, and some believe this is a sign that the Quad Cities does not support local artists.

While we understand the frustration, we also believe this cannot be further from the truth.

Quad City Arts' role in most projects is not to choose the artwork; it is to facilitate and help the organization to reach its goals. This means we are uniquely situated to see the bigger picture, and in this instance, support the choice made by MPAC. The Moline Public Art Commission operates from a Public Art and Placemaking Plan developed by the organization Renew Moline, which was adopted by City Council. The negative comments have allowed Quad City Arts to see the validity of some comments and look at future projects and goals for our organization. Most importantly though, it is creating a bigger conversation around public art in the Quad Cities, and the more attention we can bring the more we can do! (Learn more about more than fifty public mural projects that we have facilitated by local artists or completed through our Metro Arts Murals projects:

This blog post will not spend time comparing non-local mural artists to non-local performing artists or the sentiment to support locals while doing most of the shopping at “big box stores” because much like those scenarios, there is room for both.

First, we need to start thinking about our public art as a collection, much like an art museum does or you do with your personal collection. Art museums are great to visit because they have exhibits from around the world, and some have pieces from local artists as well. You may not think of the art you own as a collection, but it is. Think of what is on the walls in your home, some are from local artists and photographers, some come from your travels, and some may even come from Target. In both cases, these were curated by someone to be diverse in style, messaging, and themes.

Some additional reasons why it's important to diversify a public art collection:

  • Artistic Diversity: Non-local artists bring styles, perspectives, and influences that are not seen in a local community. This not only adds a new style, it has the potential to inspire other artists.
  • Visibility: Nationally- and internationally-recognized artists garner broader attention to a community. This attention helps solidify a region as having an art scene. It draws in cultural tourists, and boosts the reputation of all arts and culture in the area.
  • Representation: Communities are made up of many cultures, and everyone should have an opportunity to see artists and artwork that reflect them. Not all cultures represented in a community have an artist that can create a large-scale mural, so hiring non-local can achieve that.
  • Promoting Inclusivity: Commissioning murals by non-local artists can be a way to promote inclusivity and diversity within the art world. It sends a message that opportunities are available to artists regardless of their geographic location. This can also help local artists look for opportunities outside of their community.
  • Fresh Perspective: Non-local artists may offer fresh and innovative perspectives on local issues, history, or culture. Their outsider viewpoint can lead to creative interpretations and new narratives that resonate with the community.
  • Cross-Cultural Exchange: Murals by non-local artists can serve as a form of cross-cultural exchange, allowing the local community to learn about different cultures, traditions, and stories through art.

There should be a balance of local and non-local artwork and there is space in the Quad Cities for both! Thankfully, there are several projects that are currently in the works from cities in the Quad Cities Region.​The conversation does not end here, come back next month for a post on how you (and your business) can support local artists!

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