Our View: Public art plan shows value of collaboration

DKS Editors

The city of Kent has always had a specific cultural identity that places emphasis on the arts through the presence of small, local businesses and celebrations such as the ‘Round Town Music Festival and the International Festival. The local businesses and galleries provide a medium for artists and entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas and work. Kent festivals and celebrations provide the community with a meeting place not only to enjoy art together but also to share some of the community members’ best creations.

As Kent State continues to grow in enrollment and scale of its campus, Kent — specifically the downtown area — faces the risk of losing its cultural identity. Larger businesses and chains have expanded into the city of Kent in hopes of capitalizing on a growing student body at Kent State. If the city of Kent is not careful, it will soon transform from a small town with a large public university to a small town dependent on a large public university. The plans of LAND Studio to incorporate public arts through collaboration between the city of Kent and Kent State are a step in the right direction.

The plans for a public art program demonstrate the mutual benefits of collaboration between the city of Kent and Kent State. Kent State student artists will now have another medium for their expression: the streets of the city of Kent. Kent will reap the benefits of this art, as it will enhance the physical attractiveness of the city and attract more residents, businesses and students.

As Kent State and the city of Kent continue to transform and grow, it may be difficult to find “win-win” situations for both entities. Inevitably, this growth may displace longtime businesses and residents of Kent while also changing the public image of Kent State from “hometown hero” to “insatiable behemoth” that swallows up anyone, or anything, not willing to join Team Kent State.

The public arts collaboration is one of these rare “win-win” situations. As the semesters pass, the city of Kent and Kent State need to continue looking for these types of collaboration in hopes of bolstering both parties’ cultural and physical identities while protecting the established, and beloved, of both.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.