Johnson County Park And Recreation District Wins Pioneer Award For Public Art Master Plan

Sports and Recreation

September 13, 2023

From: Johnson County Park and Recreation District

The American Planning Association of Kansas (APA-Kansas) awards committee has selected Johnson County Park and Recreation District (JCPRD), Via Partnership, and SWT Design, Inc to receive the Pioneer Award for the JCPRD Public Art Plan. The awards ceremony will be held at the 2023 APA Bi-State Planning Conference, Oct. 11-13, at the Westin Hotel Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo. The JCPRD Public Art Program was approved and funded by the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners in 2020. The opportunities for art are endless, and it was clear that JCPRD needed a road map that was community centric and considered the entire park system. VIA Partnership and SWT Designs were contracted to lead this master planning effort and began this collaborative project with JCPRD by asking some key questions to guide the process and the work:

- How should we think about public art at the scale of an entire park system, especially one that includes the diversity of assets managed by JCPRD?

- How can public art support the mission and vision of JCPRD, as well as important programs and initiatives such as natural resources management, and how do we showcase the county’s history, heritage, and cultural landscape?

- How can what we both complement and be distinctive from other public art programs in the region?

The curiosity and discovery around these key questions led to a robust community engagement effort and a quality plan that set staff and the community up for success. The plan also built in flexibility anticipating opportunities that might emerge either because of a new project, a new donor, or a new partnership opportunity. The plan provided a framework to consider these unplanned opportunities while considering budget, staff capacity, and existing work plans to make solid decisions.

Since the public art master plan was accepted by the JCPRD Board in 2021, the program has flourished. Using the plan as a guide, JCPRD has successfully launched several firsts: the first permanent public art sculpture, the first mural, the first art and natural resources residency, the first temporary art installation, and the first poster project – all of these projects showcasing the natural spaces, flora, fauna, and animals of these important ecosystems. More information about these projects and the selected artists can be found atJCPRD.com/publicart.

The Parks and Recreation Foundation of Johnson County plays a crucial role in the fulfillment of JCPRD’s Public Art Program through the procurement of grants and donations. The foundation continues to seek support for future projects through corporate and private funding. Those interested in supporting this program should contact Development Director Kelly Blandford by email [email protected] or by phone at 913-826-3448.

Johnson County Park and Recreation District has been enhancing the lives of the citizens of Johnson County for the past 60+ years through its parks, quality of programs, professionalism, and response to developing trends. The district's contributions to the personal lives of Johnson County's citizens have earned the district local appreciation and national acclaim. Each year, the district records more than 10 million park visitors and participants across its 10,000 acres of parkland, 136 miles of trails and over 4,000 programs.