In honor of the Vienna Arts Society’s upcoming 50th anniversary in 2019, artists from the group will decorate 41 wooden benches that will be placed around the town for six months next year.
Under the arts group’s “Take a Seat” initiative, the benches will be displayed from April 1 through Nov. 1 near local businesses that have sponsored them, Vienna Arts Society members told the Vienna Town Council Oct. 15.
Forty-three Vienna-based businesses already have agreed to cover the cost of purchasing the benches, and participating artists will donate their time and materials needed to decorate the seats.
While some of the seating platforms might feature designs related to sponsors’ products (e.g., floral patterns for a bench sponsored by a flower shop), the benches will not feature advertising or messages with political or religious themes, organizers said.
The arts group’s leadership approached town officials earlier about the matter, and worked with the Vienna Public Art Commission to bring the initiative to life.
Benches used in the project will be built by an Amish company in Pennsylvania. The first 20 will be delivered this Friday to the arts group, which will hold a workshop Oct. 20 for participating artists.
The wooden seats will need protective coatings to survive exposure to the elements, organizers said. Most of the benches will be located on private property near sponsoring businesses, but the arts group has discussed the possibility of placing some near the Town Green and other prominent public places in Vienna, they said.
Any benches placed in public rights-of-way would have to comply with regulations, cautioned Town Manager Mercury Payton.
The arts group near the end of next March will produce a colorful brochure featuring pictures and locations of the benches, as well as the artists who decorated them.
A fund-raising auction of the benches Nov. 2 at the Vienna Community Center will mark the initiative’s end and help support the Vienna Arts Society.
While the project’s benches are not intended to be left on their sites permanently, Council member Douglas Noble said the town may want to consider leaving some of the seats in place for the long term.
Council member Carey Sienicki suggested the town could conduct a tour of the bench sites during the project. She praised the initiative, calling it a “wonderful way of sharing the talent the Vienna Arts Society has with the town.”