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The Pioneer

BART approves station art

By Louis LaVenture,
Sports and Campus Editor

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BART’s board of directors voted unanimously Aug. 13 in favor of a project dubbed “Art in Transit,” which will give artists the opportunity to decorate designated areas in stations in addition to some current decorated areas.

The three stations mentioned in BART’s plans include 19th Street Oakland, Powell Street and El Cerrito del Norte, however more stations could potentially be added eventually. According to the project packet provided by BART these stations were chosen as the first in the project because of their access and high traffic and visibility. Officials have also earmarked $207,000 in next year’s budget for a new position tentatively titled “arts manager.”

It’s not clear, however, precisely how BART will pay the bill: According to a long term operating and capital financial outlook report for 2015 through 2024, “Projected operating needs over the 10-year timeframe total $9.8 billion, with a projected $500 million shortfall.”

BART has also said that approximately $4.8 billion of a $9.6 billion Capital Improvement Program — a projection of all BART’s capital needs — remains unfunded. Several citizens who attended the meeting were left scratching their heads with regards to the art proposal.

“It’s like putting a wig on a pig,” Berkeley resident Erica Foster-Nunez said. “Art? Sure, that’s nice to look at but what about the dirty trains? Broken elevators and escalators? Delays? BART has much bigger issues than decorating the walls.”

One of BART’s directors, Zakhary Mallett, originally spoke out against the plan to incorporate art into stations but at the Aug. 13 meeting he said he would give this project “soft support” but would not support any financial commitments to the project at this point.

There was an original plan in place on how BART would fund the project but at the Aug. 13 meeting the directors decided to wait until the new arts manager could be hired so their input can be included in the decision making process.

In 2012, BART changed the cloth material seats to new seats made of synthetic vinyl, which is much easier to clean, according to BART’s website. In 2013 they also began to include temporary art pieces in some of their stations, most notably a big red ball at the Embarcadero station in San Francisco on April 9, 2013 “to provide some entertainment to commuters,” according to BART’s website.

BART created a website for artists to submit artistic plans for the designated stations. Exhibits will be temporary, permanent and some will be included in the structure of the buildings. There are currently 52 pieces of art at stations, which were paid for by BART, cities and art programs, according to BART officials.

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