Robbie Kienzle, the Planning Department’s former head of urban development, started in the new role last month.
The post oversees public-art spending, which is required by a 2009 City Council-approved plan that sets aside 1 percent of construction expenses for public art. In addition, she will oversee the city Arts Commission, coordinate activities with local arts and cultural groups, identify new arts opportunities and manage the city’s public art collection.
A California native, Kienzle previously served as director for the Festival of the Arts, executive director of the American Institute of Architects, Oklahoma Main Street manager for the city of Shawnee and visual arts consultant for several original MAPS projects, including the ballpark, downtown library and canal.
“Robbie’s experience coordinating public art selection for MAPS projects, Will Rogers World Airport expansion and the Skydance Pedestrian Bridge makes her a uniquely qualified candidate for this position,” said Russell Claus, city planning director. “Over the last 18 months, she co-led the effort to implement the city’s cultural plan, further advancing her relationship with local artists and arts organizations.”
Kienzle said she will continue her work on that plan, particularly its goal of bolstering support for artists.
“That, we thought, is the foundation of all cultural development: the support of artists,” she said.
The plan is created by the Cultural Development Corporation, composed of a mix of government, private nonprofit organizations and community leaders.
Part of Kienzle’s new job will be seeking grants that can help enhance OKC’s reputation and appreciation of art, such as possible downtown walking tours of historical buildings. With a salary of $77,842, the job was created under the city’s 2012-13 budget, which went into effect July 1.
While Oklahoma City builds on its policy of funding public art, the state appears to be moving in the opposite direction. Under a bill authored by state Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, the Legislature voted last year to temporarily end the state’s Art in Public Places Act, which mandated that 1.5 percent of funding for state construction projects go toward public art.
Osborn’s measure suspended that program for three years.