The Athens-Clarke County Commission has been embroiled in a controversy recently over “art in the jail.” Or that’s how those against the public art have framed it. The controversy began because of a public ordinance put in place in 2011 that allocates 1% of every construction budget to public art. The original plan for the new jail included $250K for public art. They planned on incorporating 3 pieces; one in the atrium, and two on the grounds. Many in the public were outraged at the prospect of public funds going to anything superfluous in the jail. The reality is that the 1% is part of a budget that was already determined. Not spending the money on art only means that the funds are absorbed back into the budget and go for other things in the jail construction. Once a budget is determined, the tax payers’ money is virtually spent. The commission has voted the money not go to public art in the jail. The comments from this article from the Athens Banner-Herald are vicious. It amazes me how the vocal voices of a few are able to overturn something that could have been so positive.