Normal residents asked to voice opinion on community art plans

Floor artwork at Uptown Station in Normal. (Photo courtesy of Town of Normal)

Residents have less than two weeks left to have their voices heard about public art in the Normal community.

The Town of Normal’s Cultural Arts Department launched a survey and has been seeking input on public art in the community. throughout the month. The live survey will end one week from today, on Wednesday, May 31.

“Our understanding of art and public relationships has evolved and continues to do so,” Cultural Arts Director Beth Whisman said in a release through the town’s website.

“We want to better understand people’s expectations as we create a more intentional approach to public art with a Public Art Master Plan,” Whisman said.

Open to those who live, work and play in Normal, the survey ( about visual art takes less than seven minutes to complete.

Questions include inquiries about parks and public places visited regularly, the types and kind of art most “intriguing or attractive” in public spaces, and where people would like to see permanent art displayed. The survey asks for demographic information because the Town desires a representative sample of the community.

“The town is already planning an art installation in the plaza between the Children’s Discovery Museum and Uptown Station,” Whisman said on the town website. “We want to know where else the community would like to see art and what they will enjoy the most. Public art is important … it creates beauty, connects audiences and publicly illustrates our identity. We want residents to complete the survey and share their input.”

The link to the survey is included on the Town of Normal’s website ( and on its social media pages. The town also will share information about the survey to its subscriber lists via email and Notify Normal messages, according to the release. The survey also is being digitally distributed on a variety of platforms to residents via social media ads.

The Town of Normal Cultural Arts Department partnered with Zencity to launch the survey, which will take about six weeks to complete the responses. Survey findings will be one of the considerations used in determining where to place public art in the community, according to the cultural arts department.

Discussions about a Public Visual Art Plan began in the Town of Normal in 2019 when a group of arts patrons and professionals from the Town, Illinois State University and local arts nonprofits gathered to discuss possibilities and options for the program. The group met multiple times before the COVID-19 pandemic, though no formal plans were created.

Like with many other public projects, the pandemic slowed the process until 2022 when a Public Visual Art Plan was presented to the Normal Town Council.

“The council has shown its commitment to this effort with the current budget,” Whisman said. “Federal grants and national endowments are also viable sources for future funding.”

In March of this year, the council approved the FY 2023-24 budget, which includes $150,000 for public arts programming. This budget also includes $50,000 for the Harmon Arts Grants, a program the Town of Normal has offered since 1995.

The Town of Normal established the Cultural Arts Department in 2015 to look toward new efforts to enhance and leverage the benefits of celebrating the local arts scene.