Washington County art competition to build new building is an insult to artists – St. George News


This file photo shows construction work on the new Washington County Administration Building being built in downtown St. George, Utah, July 9, 2021 | Photo by Murray Kessler. St. George News

Opinion – As an artist and former president of the St. George Art Committee, I am appalled and humiliated by it Art competition in Washington County for a new multi-million dollar building.

The county is running a competition to get original art from local artists to display on part of their new complex in downtown St. George. The competition is simple: Submit your work and, if selected, get $1,000. It seems great? No, it is an insult.

The artist selected for the Grand Prize will receive a paltry $1,000, and transfer all rights, title, interest, claim, ideas, concepts, copyrighted material, moral rights, and trademarks contained in the entry to the County of Washington. (Read that again, and again.) I wouldn’t give up those rights for the worst piece of art. The county is also entitled to purchase any entry for $250. Another insult.

Why is the artists’ effort and creativity reduced to a simple competition, when Washington County pays tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars to each of the individual contractors on this massive construction project? Is the county trying to take advantage of some of the pseudo-charitable magical aspects of the arts to push them to get a crucial component of the building’s aesthetics for pennies on the dollar?

Don’t rule out art! Art is not a commodity! Washington County must choose the art it sees fit for its new building and respect the artists by paying them the asking price.

Submitted by RON WOODBURY, Past Chair of St. George’s Committee for the Arts.

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