Letter to the Editor: Washington County’s art contest for its new building is an insult to artists

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

OPINION — As an artist and former chairman of the St. George Arts Commission, I am appalled and offended at Washington County’s art contest for their new multimillion-dollar building.

The county is running a contest to obtain original art from local artists to display on a portion of their new complex in downtown St. George. The contest is simple: Submit your work, and if chosen, you get $1,000. Sounds 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 materials, moral rights and trademarks contained in the entry to Washington County. (Read that again, and one more time.) I wouldn’t give up those rights for my worst piece of art. The county also has the right to purchase any entry for $250. Another insult.

Why are the efforts and creativity of artists reduced to a simple contest, while Washington County pays tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars to each of the individual contractors in this massive building project? Is the county attempting to capitalize on some magic pseudo-charitable aspect of the arts to drive them to obtain a critical element of the building’s aesthetics for pennies on the dollar?

Do not discount art! Art is not a commodity! Washington County should select the art they deem appropriate for their new building and respect the artists by paying them the asking price.

Submitted by RON WOODBURY, former chairman of the St. George Arts Commission.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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