Horizons art piece in Town Center Park.

The Quest to Improve Quality of Life in Sunny Isles Beach

By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager

(Wednesday, November 22, 2017) – Last June, the City of Sunny Isles Beach celebrated its 20th anniversary. We commemorated the advancements and improvements to services from which our residents and visitors have benefitted including lower taxes, local access to critical governmental services, such as code compliance and proper building permitting, the creation of a school and wonderful after school programs, improved drainage and infrastructure, superb police services, and the creation of stronger cultural programs.

In our Commission’s continuing quest to improve the quality of life for its citizens and visitors on an even higher level, the City completed a study by an international cultural master plan consulting firm to create a more formal vision for art and culture in the City. Part of this Cultural Master Plan includes the development of arts and cultural programming designed for the evolution and fruition of creative projects and spaces. These are spaces that will invite all elements of our culturally diverse demographic; young and old, families and visitors, Eastern Europeans to South Americans, from all walks of life, to gather in artistic, curated public spaces.

While the Cultural Master Plan is new, public art has always been in the back of the mind of the City’s most forward thinkers. Even back in 2003, the City passed an Art in Public Places ordinance, requiring developers to provide public art in conjunction with their own developments or, alternatively, pay a certain amount into a Public Art Fund. In addition, over the years, the City has purchased public art for its parks but on an informal, more random basis. This winter, however, the City is adopting its first formal Public Art Program, not unlike those developed in other major metropolitan areas around the nation.

The intention of this Public Art Program is to:

  • Leverage the arts to create a sense of place and increase quality of life.
  • Enrich individual citizen experience in public spaces, engaging them in the public artexperience.
  • Enhance the appearance of public spaces.
  • Celebrate and give visual expression to the City’s cultural diversity.
  • Strengthen the positive reputation of the City and sense of pride in the community.
  • Promote distinctive, diverse and high quality artwork that creates a sense of place and contributes to the enrichment of the lives of citizens.
  • Identify members of the City’s own artist community.
  • Create a curated inventory of public art.
  • Stimulate dialogue and interest about issues raised by unique art.
  • Seek partnerships and collaborative opportunities for artists and citizens alike to work and create art.

In keeping with the desire for more professionalism in every aspect of City services, the selection of all future works of art and art programming by the City Commission will be based on recommendations made by a Public Arts Advisory Committee. This Committee will be comprised of City and local volunteers with an interest in civic improvement, possessing professional artistic qualifications in visual or graphic arts, architecture, urban planning, public art and placemaking curation, programming, engineering, or other art and design-related fields.

It is anticipated that this Committee will guide the City Commission on its overall art policy, create criteria for methodology and selection of art, make recommendations to the City Commission on public art projects and programming and possible changes in design elements within the community. For more information about the Public Arts Advisory Committee, please send your inquiries to the City Clerk at [email protected].

The City anticipates this new Public Art Program will delight its citizens and further beautify what is already referred to as the “jewel” of northeast Miami-Dade County, Sunny Isles Beach.