Debate continues on fate of White Rock Lake Water Theater, public meetings ahead

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Back in January, the Cultural Affairs Commission discussed the possible removal of the White Rock Lake Water Theater, a 13-year-old public art installation that has deteriorated over time due to a lack of maintenance funds.

After wide concern among those in the local art community, the commission tabled the decision until other alternatives could be considered. The city does not take this kind of decision lightly; it would be only the second time that a public art piece was removed.

(Catch up on the details of the story here: For a major piece of public art at White Rock Lake, the future is uncertain.)

The Office of Cultural Affairs has scheduled two public meetings this month to gather community input on the fate of the lakeside art. Both meetings are at the Bath House Cultural Center at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 22, and at 7 p.m. Monday, March 24.

Local artists Frances Bagley and Tom Orr created the Water Theater in 2001. It adorns the shore behind the Bath House, featuring 43 steel poles, 20 polycarbonate light poles, 10 cast stone land elements, 12 aluminum educational wildlife charts and one solar panel system.

The piece was meant to be a “stage” for wildlife at White Rock Lake. It also requires a lot of upkeep, and the city was forced to eliminate its entire maintenance budget for public art in 2009. It would cost $25,000 just to remove the piece, but art advocates are pushing for alternatives to find $250,000 to restore the installation back to or beyond its original state.

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Emily Toman
EMILY TOMAN is the senior editor. Email or follow