Laramie Public Art Coalition Hires a New Director

The Laramie Public Art Coalition is pleased to announce the hire of a new director, Michelle Visser.  The position is currently held by Meg Thompson Stanton, who announced her resignation in January in order to transition to other professional opportunities.

Visser brings to this position a rich background in arts education and community engagement.  She moved her 23 years ago to attend UW for her education degree, but access to outdoor recreation and the intentional efforts to enrich lives of the community are two factors that have kept her and her family here.  Visser’s educator experiences included teaching art at the elementary level through a grant-funded program, ArtReach, in Teton County, Idaho.  This program  provided art instruction to students who would otherwise not have this opportunity as part of their educational experience in the K – 5 grades. Currently, she is the Teen Coordinator for the UW Art Museum where she has developed T.O.A.S.T. – Teen Open Art Studio Time, through collaboration with local teens.

Visser has been active in community projects over the past twelve years including helping found the Laramie Montessori Charter School, contributing to the Big Hollow Food Co-op as a volunteer in its founding days, and later becoming a board member, to currently volunteering in support of the Pilot Hill Project.

Visser states, “I have felt drawn to working on community-oriented activities for much of my adult life.  Becoming the LPAC coordinator allows me to continue to contribute to our community through public art. I am very excited about the opportunity to collaborate with so many others that are already working intentionally for the benefit of Laramie and its residents.”

Board chair Margaret Brown says “contracting with Michelle will ensure that LPAC can continue promoting public art projects as well as other community engagement efforts.  Michelle will be a quick study for this position, given her background with nonprofit organizations and art programs.  We’re pleased that she applied for this position!”

The Laramie Public Art Coalition’s mission is to enhance the unique visual and cultural vibrancy of Laramie and Albany County, in a manner that encourages participation and engagement from all our citizens and visitors. LPAC does not select art, but exists to facilitate those who want to engage in a public art project.

Implementation of the Plan

After a successful planning process which involved listening to what people in Laramie and Albany County wanted to see in their public art, the consultants and the working team developed Laramie's first Public Art Plan!  The final plan was adopted by the city of Laramie in September 2015.  The "working team" formed the LPAC executive committee and worked hard to raise funds in order to hire a part time staff person.  Meg Thompson Stanton was hired in December 2016 as the LPAC coordinator.  See LPAC's 5 year plan here (this website is undergoing an update-- please check back in a few weeks, thanks!)

Laramie is developing a public art plan. What does that mean?

A public art plan is a document that helps to guide choices about how future public art is developed and implemented. It includes research and community input to create the following:

A vision and goals for public art in the community
Examples of different types of public art projects
Suggestions for public art locations
Procedures for artist selection, design development, design review, and project management
Strategies for funding public art
Ideas for educational programs
Sample documents and policies

Laramie’s public art plan will have all of these components and can be used by any public or private entity in the city and county that is interested in presenting public art.  The document will be available to the public.

The Boomerang published an article about the planning process in February 2015.
 

How was the community involved in developing the plan?

With funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wyoming Arts Council, the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, and the Laramie Beautification Committee, the City of Laramie has hired a consultant team to conduct a community-focused planning process. The team includes Renee Piechocki, Jennifer McGregor, and Laramie resident Meg Thompson.  Our PSA was created to reach out to the community about the project.

Here are some of the ways community members will be involved:

Information Gathering Sessions: There will be at least three open meetings where everyone is invited to attend.  During these meetings, the consultants will share examples about public art and get feedback about the types of public art that is desired in Laramie.

Pop Up Workshops:   Can't sit still in meetings?  No Problem.  There will also hands-on activities where you can help to identify locations and provide a vision for public art. 

Virtual Participation:  Want to participate, but short on time?  This website is a portal for members of the community to get information, learn more about public art, and give feedback and suggestions.  We will also be posting surveys on the website.

Stakeholder Interviews: The consultant team will interview a cross section of members of the Laramie community to help develop the framework for the public art plan. 

Committees: An advisory committee and steering committee are being developed to work closely with the consultants and provide in-depth feedback during every phase of the project.

 

What is the schedule for the plan?

The consultant team has developed the following schedule:

Research: December: January 2015
Community Information Gathering and Workshops: February and March 2015
Draft Plan and Pop Up Workshops: April2015
Final Draft: June 2015

 

Who are the consultants meeting with?

In addition to open, public meetings, there are three different groups of Laramie community members who are meeting with the consultants.  These groups are a public art working group, stakeholders, and an advisory committee.

The groups include visual artists, performing artists, business owners, and representatives from the following organizations: Albany County Tourism Board, Downtown Laramie Business Alliance, the Laramie Beautification Committee, Laramie Chamber Business Alliance, City of Laramie, Laramie Main Street Alliance, University of Wyoming, Wyoming Arts Council, and others.

Everyone is invited to participate in the planning process.  Learn how you can get involved.