Arts commission replaces Carmel Public Art Advisory Committee


In light of Carmel Mayor Sue Finkam issuing an executive order Feb. 20 establishing the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Arts, the Carmel City Council voted unanimously March 4 to abolish the Carmel Public Art Advisory Committee.

The council formed the committee in 2018 to provide nonbinding input on proposed locations for public art installations. In 2020, the committee’s scope expanded to also include issuing advisory opinions on proposed public art purchases greater than $5,000.

In recent years, however, members of the committee questioned the group’s relevance, as some public art pieces were brought to the group for review after the city had already committed to purchasing them. Committee members also said they did not have an opportunity to weigh in on other projects that they believed were within their purview.

The committee often clashed with then-Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, who said in August 2023 that it “should never have been formed.”

During her mayoral campaign, Finkam, who became mayor Jan. 1, said she supported changing the process for vetting and gathering input on public art.

“The establishment of the arts commission marks the realization of my commitment to fostering increased community engagement in our arts initiatives and public art acquisitions,” Finkam stated.

Laura Campbell, who served on the Carmel City Council from 2016 to 2023, will chair the commission.

According to the executive order, the arts commission shall:

  • Review annual arts grant applications and recommend funding to qualified, local nonprofit arts organizations, within an approved budget.
  • Develop a master plan for public art.
  • Work with city departments and city art consultants to determine appropriate acquisitions and locations for public art, within an approved budget.
  • Provide feedback on arts programming to ensure Carmel remains a vibrant, arts-focused community.
  • Receive and report input from the community on the city’s public art acquisitions and performing art programming.

The commission has seven members, with four appointed by the mayor and three appointed by the city council. At the March 4 meeting, the council appointed Beth Glynn, Chandrika Patel and Tina Mangos. Mayoral appointees are Campbell, Jill Dunn, Julia Saltsgaver and Ashley Ulbricht. Saltsgaver is the only appointee who served on the arts committee.

“The seven members of the commission bring varied and talented backgrounds together to focus on this important initiative,” Campbell stated. “The arts are a major economic driver in the city of Carmel, and Mayor Finkam’s commitment to receiving input from the community is essential to the continued success of the arts organizations in Carmel.”

The commission’s first meeting is set for March 11 at Carmel City Hall.