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Kings to pump more than $5 million into downtown arena art program

The Kings announced a partnership with the Sacramento Metro Arts Commission to help develop an art plan for the new downtown arena. A newly created panel will select an artist or artists to create the "monumental" piece of art expected to be placed in the main public plaza of the arena.

The Sacramento Kings announced a new arena partnership Friday that is going to result in "the largest public art investment in city history."

Specifically, the Kings will put approximately $5.5 million of the construction budget for the arena toward the Sacramento Metro Arts Commission's "Art in Public Places" program for the new downtown arena. A public art selection panel, that includes Lial Jones, director of the Crocker Art Museum; Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated (and co-owner of the Kings); Rob Rothblatt, arena senior architect at AECOM; Rachel Teagle, director of the Richard L. Nelson Gallery at the University of California, Davis and other local leaders in the art community will oversee the art program for the arena. The tasks for the Sacramento Metro Arts Commission and the panel include artist research, outreach and selection; artwork design development; design approval; and fabrication and installation of artwork.

Part of that artist outreach will include identifying the person(s) that will develop that "large free-standing sculpture element" in the main public plaza of the arena that we mentioned last month.

"That is a great site for a monumental work of art," said Shelly Willis, executive director of the Sacramento Metro Arts Commission, which is a city and county joint agency.

Willis, who recently spoke to Sactown Royalty about the art program for the arena, will manage to process for the newly created panel.

"There is a collaboration that begins to happen between an artist and the architect or the designers because the artist is responding to the building and the architect is responding to the artist's work," Willis said.

The new art panel will make decisions about the arena art program and then present recommendations to the arts commission for approval. Willis said the current pieces of art in Downtown Plaza, which have been donated to the arts commission by the Kings, will be moved to locations around the region that fit the nature of each individual piece. (So yeah, the guy juggling all the bags and boxes on his head will soon have a new home.)

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and the rest of the ownership group have expressed that art will be a key component of the arena project.

"Promoting arts and culture is a top priority for the Kings and our ownership group," said Kings owner Vivek Ranadive in a team statement. "We're proud to partner with SMAC and this incredible all-star selection panel to ensure that the ESC makes a statement about the value of public art and its vital role in defining and activating downtown Sacramento."

Willis said she is excited about the possibilities that the new arena creates for downtown and for artists in general.

"It's a historic opportunity for the city and I don't use that word historic lightly, it really is. This is the largest public art program budget in the history of the city of Sacramento. On the county side, we had the airport project, but on the city side and especially in the downtown area, this a historic occasion," Willis said. "The arts community, the business community, the downtown neighborhoods are all potentially interested in what's going to happen because we know the power and the potential of art and to be able to commission an artist to do a work at such a central location under these circumstances, with this monumental building that's beautifully designed, it's just an incredible project and opportunity."

The airport's art plan (the big red rabbit!) had an $8 million budget.

An arts plan for the project is expected this summer or fall and Willis said she hopes to have the art designs ready for approval by the end of the year. Willis said it will be up to the panel to decide whether to make the search for artists a national or international search, and what considerations will be given to local and regional artists.

My personal opinion is that Sacramento artist David Garibaldi should be involved in the arena somehow, although his work would most likely be best suited for inside the arena since he focuses on paintings/portraits rather than sculptures. #HereWeGaribaldi

The city council is scheduled to vote on the final documentation for the arena project, including the revised term sheet and environmental impact report on May 13. If approved, the demolition process of Downtown Plaza can begin as early as the following day.


The final vote will not take place on May 13 as the city has postponed the release of the arena agreements, according to The Sacramento Bee.

It doesn't sound like this is a huge cause for concern and will likely have no impact on the timeline for the arena construction, it is just a matter of both sides shoring everything up.