Cultural Affairs office seeks fixes for ngelected program
By Lou Ortiz
Miami-Dade County's Department of Cultural Affairs has been at work since last year trying to fix the negligence and mismanagement that has plagued the Art in Public Places program.
A review by the county's Audit and Management Service Department found that the program's 630-piece collection, valued at $28.2 million, has been neglected, not properly inventoried, is in need of maintenance or repair, and pieces on public display are susceptible to theft, among other problems.
The program was created by county ordinance in 1973, along with a 15-member board of trustees to run it. But the program was turned over last fall to the Department of Cultural Affairs, under Director Michael Spring.
"The department has already begun addressing many of the audit findings," County Manager George M. Burgess said in a memo last week to Mayor Carlos Alvarez and county commissioners.
He said Mr. Spring had provided a preliminary response to the audit and would issue a more comprehensive one in 30 to 60 days.
In a recent interview, Mr. Spring said the program's collection is one "of the most prestigious collections in the United States."
"We have a museum's worth" of art, he said, "now we have to treat it as such."
Mr. Spring said his department would focus on care and accountability of the collection, the implementation of sound management practices, and dependable financial procedures.
"Our approach is to address each of these matters thoroughly, thoughtfully, effectively and in a coordinated fashion," Mr. Spring said in a memo to the county manager.
He said the department would develop an inventory process, investigate missing artwork, and maintain the collection, among other things.
"We're making sure everything is accounted for," he said. "Our collection needs to have appraisals done on a regular basis."