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Augusta city leaders pause two new projects for local artists



AUGUSTA, Ga. – We’re constantly seeing new art come to our city but tonight there are two art projects on hold in Augusta. Both the sculpture trail downtown and the Gateway Project are on pause as city leaders work out the financials.

One of the many things that make Augusta unique is the public art around the city like this mural created by a local artist. Augusta was on track to continue its art expansion but city leaders don’t want to move forward until old projects are off the ground.

For local artist and graphic designer Jason Craig Augusta’s art is part of what makes it home.

“I feel like the train is the most important part on here because it is unique to Augusta,” said Craig. “I think it’s one of the things that breathes life into the air.”

He finished this ‘respect’ mural just before lockdown in March of 2020. But creating art in the middle of a pandemic is a new struggle.

“Without having public gatherings, with everything being closed, it just made it tough, and a lot of us depend on our shows our sales, and those just vanished,” said Craig.

Augusta’s Art Master Plan has also been on hold but not just because of the pandemic.

The city allocated $1 million toward a Gateway Sculpture Project in collaboration with the Greater Augusta Arts Council even though that was in 2015, the project still hasn’t left the ground.

“They’ll be a large welcome for people to see as they enter our, our city,” said Craig.

Back in 2019 two designs for the 15 to 20 feet sculptures were shot down when the commission voted to reset the process. Since then, the Augusta Arts Council held community input meetings and formed two new sculpture themes. But the city’s progress stopped. Now leaders want to get it going again.

“As far as the Arts Council goes, we’re ready. We have no hesitation in doing outdoor art like this,” said Brenda Durant, executive director for the Greater Augusta Arts Council.

City leaders also have to decide whether or not to allocate $100,000 more to continue the new sculpture trail. The Augusta Arts Council is set to meet with the city administrator tomorrow to go over the details of the Gateway Project and start the search for new artists. Durant says she’d like to see the Gateway sculptures in place by early or mid-2022.

The Greater Augusta Arts Council will return to city leaders with an update on the Gateway Project then decide on whether to continue funding for the sculpture trail.