Wednesday, January 20, 1999

Spread state
art around,
auditor urges

Better programs and
policies for the arts are
needed, the report says

By Pat Omandam


Got Art?

Then make it more accessible to the public by rotating it every couple of years, state auditor Marion Higa has suggested to the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

In a 53-page audit released yesterday, Higa said the foundation, among other things, needs better policies and programs that would expose the public to different works of arts in state buildings, schools, airports and courthouses.

Higa recommended that the foundation adhere to state law requiring periodic rotation of artwork from one state building to another and among the neighbor islands.

The foundation has more than 4,900 pieces of what is called "relocatable art" by nearly 1,300 artists.

"The foundation has not ensured that the relocatable works of art are sufficiently rotated to educate the public about those works, and to stimulate interest in the arts . . . ," Higa said.

"Works of art on display in public facilities sometimes stay in the same location for years," she said.

Holly Richards, foundation executive director, said yesterday that the agency agreed with nearly all of Higa's 22 recommendations. Those points include clarifying the roles of the nine-member commission and the 20-member foundation staff, conducting formal reviews of programs, requiring a complete inventory of relocatable art and exploring ways to use gallery spaces in state buildings to exhibit artwork in its collection.

Higa also wants the foundation to adopt a useful master plan and wants the state Legislature to review the decade-old special fund used to buy public artwork. State law requires 1 percent of all state money used for capital improvement construction projects be transferred into the fund, which has generated about $18 million since 1989.

The foundation disagreed, however, with Higa's call for legislation to allow public artwork in public areas of private buildings because there is already a program which does that, Richards said.

"The agency is 35 years old," she said. "A number of programs have evolved over the years and it's time to take a look at what we're doing and how we're doing it."

"So we welcome her recommendations," Richards said.

Lisa Yoshihara, relocatable works of art coordinator, said that while state law requires rotation of artwork, to do so is another matter. Up to 1993, Yoshihara had no staff -- and no state vehicle -- to help her interchange the pieces of art, which involves a lot of work.

For example, changes in membership and leadership at the state Legislature this year meant Yoshihara had to meet with about 70 lawmakers over the past four weeks to discuss artwork for their respective offices. Those changes alone meant relocating 400 to 600 pieces within state Capitol offices and meeting rooms.

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