Beginning with its 2013 revitalization initiative, the City of Sanford has focused on public art as a way to promote and showcase Sanford's history.
A vocal champion of the public art initiative, former mayor Chet Mann believed that public art adds charm and character to Sanford, and it also functions as economic development. "This initiative brings positive notoriety to Sanford as it unlocks our history and heritage for all who come here to live, work, or play," he said in 2015.
While most of Sanford's current public art was funded by private donations, Rep. John Sauls advocated for Sanford to receive a $40,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce in the 2017 session of the N.C. General Assembly. That grant was then matched by Sanford City Council.
An established budget meant the Public Art Program -- steered by city's Appearance Commission and Planner Liz Whitmore -- could bring more forms of public art to Sanford.
Since inception, the Public Art Program has brought 15 murals, 3 interactive pieces, and 4 metal sculptures to the city. The program is also responsible for the enhancement of Charlie Watson Lane and the restoration of ghost signs throughout Sanford.
"Public art is now a defining symbol of our comment," says current Mayor Rebecca Wyhof Salmon, who has served on the Appearance Commission's public art sub-committee for the past 10 years. "Sanford has always been a community of makers and artists, and the Public Art Program does a fantastic job of showcasing our tremendous talent."