Miami-Dade public arts program in shambles, auditor says
By Lou Ortiz
Miami-Dade County's $28.2 million Art in Public Program is a mess, with 13 pieces of art worth $12.6 million not recorded in an inventory, 24% of the collection in need of maintenance or repair and items on public display susceptible to theft.
The questionable practices extend to the program's dealings with artists, according to a review of the program by the county's Audit and Management Services Department.
In one case, an item that cost $400,000 was destroyed instead of moved elsewhere because the artist felt the piece was site-specific. The artist was paid $24,418 to come up with a plan to remove the piece that was later rejected, and then hired to do another project for $900,000 — in violation of the county's competitive process.
The mismanagement, maintenance negligence and inventory discrepancies that plague the program don't stop there, according to the audit, whose findings were released last week.
Of the 175 pieces chosen for review, only 89% were where they were supposed to be — and some scared with graffiti and mud.
Many artworks were found gathering dust and racking up storage fees of more than $24,000, and scores of others valued in the tens of thousands of dollars were missing.
The program was turned over last year to the Department of Cultural Affairs, which has been working to fix many of the discrepancies the audit found.
The report said there are 630 pieces of art valued at $28.2 million, not 704 at $16.3 million as stated by the program.
The program had $3.6 million in its bank account last year, the report said, but none of the money was used to maintain or repair 46 pieces that were damaged or had deteriorated.
The audit also said that 87 items valued at $94,780 could not be found — including one which cost $50,000 — and they have been missing since 1999. One piece reported stolen was found in a storage room.