- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler is defending the use of $1 million in taxpayer money to install a statue outside of the Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The West Haymarket Joint Public Agency, which is in charge of building and paying for the arena, voted 2-1 on Thursday to approve a contract with Portland, Oregon-based artist Ed Carpenter, who won the bid over 200 other artists. Beutler also serves as chairman of the three-member board.

Beutler believes installing the sculpture is “good public policy” and is “the right thing to do,” because public art promotes creativity and helps attract new residents, the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1UZDcKp ) reported.

Jane Kinsey, a spokeswoman for Watchdogs of Lincoln Government, consistently has opposed the spending of tax dollars on the arena on behalf of the group. Although Kinsey admits that the sculpture is “rather beautiful,” she still opposes using pay dollars to pay for it because “voters did not vote for any find of art,” she said.

Kinsey challenged Beutler to prove his argument that the new sculpture could attract new residents by identifying one person who has moved to Lincoln solely based on the city’s public art.

Beutler said the community needs things “that make Lincoln an interesting place,” because it’s not surrounded by natural amenities such as mountains or an ocean.

The stainless steel sculpture, which will be fabricated in Nebraska, will resemble a shock of wheat or a fountain and will reflect and absorb light.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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