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Huntington Public Arts Initiative needs more funding, group says

Next year could be the last for Huntington’s Public Art Initiative if it doesn’t receive more town funds, according to a report from the town’s Public Art Advisory Committee.

The town board recently approved the 2018 plan, which includes a sculpture for Sweet Hollow Park in Melville, additional custom paintings on traffic signal boxes, and placards featuring poetry from area students for the HART bus system. Completion of these projects will exhaust funds in the initiative’s account, according to the report issued Oct. 17.

The public art initiative was established in 1998 with a goal of creating a better visual environment in the town, including art installments in parks as well as murals and banners for Huntington Station. The Town Board approved the appointment of a public art advisory committee and adopted the “Public Art Advisory Committee Guidelines and Administrative Plan” on Sept. 25, 2001.

The annual budget allocation started at $5,000 and later increased to $15,000 annually. As of 2012, the line item in the budget has been zero, so the initiative has been using money the town contributed in previous years.

Town supervisor Frank Petrone said there are no plans to discontinue the initiative but that the committee needs to spend the money it receives from the town or show where it’s being spent.

“You can’t just keep accumulating money while getting funding,” Petrone said Monday. “That’s the issue — if they spent the money or the money is spent, a budget amendment can be made. No one is really looking to eliminate that program.”

Some of the achievements of the initiative include an online inventory of existing public art in the town, 36 temporary sculpture installations and one permanent mural.

Advisory committee chairwoman Janine Seifert said the group is optimistic that once the town board members see how the money has been spent or earmarked, they will restore funding.

“We have a lot of wonderful ideas and plans that we’d like to see carried out,” Seifert said. “It’s a good program and I think it’s just the way things look on paper.”

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