FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Commissioner Ryan proposes draft policy criteria for review of public art and monuments

News Article
Commissioner Ryan’s draft policy proposal creates a complaint system for public art, and defines a process for its review. The public is invited to provide feedback over a four-week comment period.
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Portland, Oregon – Today, City of Portland Commissioner Dan Ryan announced a new review process for public art and monuments going forward. This initiative emerges from a moment in the city's history in 2020 when monuments were either toppled or removed following acts of vandalism or criminal mischief as defined in Oregon Statue 164.345.

Historically, the City lacked a formal mechanism to address public concerns regarding monuments and public art. Recognizing this gap, the City Council is poised to implement a comprehensive policy for Public Artwork and Monuments Review. Commissioner Ryan’s draft policy proposal creates a complaint system for public art and defines a process for review.

Commissioner Ryan has proposed a four week public comment period of the proposal, inviting participation from all Portlanders. This move, which adds three extra weeks to the usual period for public feedback, highlights Commissioner Ryan's dedication to a transparent decision-making process.

Portlanders are encouraged to share their feedback ahead of the City Council session on February 28. Email public comment to monumentspolicy@portlandoregon.gov

Commissioner Ryan stated, "I am deeply committed to steering this project to its successful conclusion. Portland must no longer tolerate criminal behavior as a standard course of action. I look forward to community feedback and landing a thoughtful policy."

March 2024 Unanimously Adopted Policy: 


DRAFT 5.74.090 Public Artwork and Monuments Review Policy:

A.    A piece of public artwork or monument may be considered for review based one or more of the following reasons:

1.    There is significant adverse public reaction or reasonable large-scale community opposition to the monument or piece of public artwork.

2.    The artist or subject of a piece of public artwork, or their descendants, provides a written request to the City seeking removal of the artwork from public display.

3.    Community members most affected by the artwork’s historical and cultural context have expressed a negative impact on community wellbeing because of the piece of public artwork.

4.    The City has denounced ownership of the piece of artwork due to what or whom it represents or its impact on communities and communities that have been historically marginalized due to colonization, genocide, or slavery.

5.    The subject or impact of a piece of artwork is significantly at odds with City’s values of antiracism and equity.

6.    The artwork can be sold to finance acquisition of, or can be traded for, a work of greater importance.

7.    The artwork is damaged or requires restoration in gross excess of its value or is in such a deteriorated state that restoration is either not feasible or impractical.

8.    The artwork interferes with the practical use of the site or significant changes in the use or character of design of the site affect the integrity of the artwork.

9.    The location of a site-specific artwork provides an environmental risk or is so severely altered that the work’s installation is no longer physically possible or conceptually relevant.

10.           No suitable site for the artwork is available.

11.           The artwork is duplicative of work of that type or of that artist within the City.

12.           The artwork requires excessive or unreasonable maintenance or has physical faults in design or workmanship.

13.           The work is fraudulent or not authentic.

14.           A work is not or is rarely displayed.

15.           The artwork endangers or presents a potential threat to public safety.

16.           Providing security for the work requires too many resources or the City cannot reasonably guarantee the security of the artwork.

17.           The work does not fit within the mission, goals, and objectives for the City’s public art program.

B.    If a piece of artwork or a monument meets one or more of the criteria in Subsection A above, and the City Arts Program or its designee identifies a piece for review, the City Arts Program or its designee will provide a written report to the City Council and if applicable, include a recommendation for one or both of the following:

1.    A recommendation for the City Arts Program or its designee to review the public artwork or monument in question and provide a report and recommendations to the City Council. If review of a piece of public artwork or monument is initiated based on significant adverse public reaction, and the piece is recommended for return to public display, the recommendation must include the following elements:

a.     Addition of historical context or information related to the monument or artwork designed to enhance public understanding and awareness;

b.    Community engagement in the form of public conversations and meetings; Evaluation of community feedback, both historic and current;

c.     An analysis of the subject or artwork in relation to the City’s values of antiracism and equity; Review of the public artwork subject, the donor of the art, the artist, and historical acquisition of the artwork;

d.    Assessment of the artwork or monument as an ongoing rally point for gatherings centered on racist or bigoted ideology; and

e.     Examination of any legal considerations related to the disposition of the artwork or monument.

2.    A recommendation to appoint a Public Artwork and Monuments Advisory Commission with a primary purpose of evaluating specific monuments or pieces of artwork and making recommendations to the Mayor and City Council relating to the artwork or monument in question. The Commission will:

a.     Represent a diverse body of members of the public and include a minimum of two artists, one historian and two community members most affected by the artwork’s historical and cultural context, and with widely recognized expertise in a range of relevant disciplines, such as history, art and antiquities, public art and public space, preservation, cultural heritage, diversity and inclusion, and education.

b.    Produce a report to City Council including a summary of the following engagement activities:

                                                                                     i.      A series of virtual and/or in-person community forums, listening sessions and town halls.

                                                                                   ii.      A minimum 6-month public engagement process with artists and community members most affected by the artwork or monument and develop creative responses or engagement activities in response to the proposed artwork or monument in question.