City of Knoxville Reponds to "Black Lives Matter" Street Art Proposal

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

City of Knoxville Reponds to "Black Lives Matter" Street Art Proposal

Posted: 07/02/2020
When the City recently learned of a proposal to paint “Black Lives Matter” in front of a school this weekend, every attempt was made to help the organizers realize the project in a safe, community-supported manner. However, with such short notice, the organizers did not have time to obtain a permit.  

Mayor Kincannon stated, “I support Black Lives Matter, and I also support public art. I have seen similar projects in other cities that could work in Knoxville too. We have a process in place for painting City streets, and numerous City leaders worked hard to accommodate this event. Although we all tried our best, the minimum requirements have not yet been met and we were not able to issue a permit.”

One of the most important criteria for this kind of project is support from the community. The Decorative Painting of Streets Policy states that the support petition must have signatures from each of the adjacent property owners and at least 80 percent of the residents on the project street frontage(s) within two standard city blocks of the proposed project. 

Tanisha Fitzgerald-Baker, member of the Public Arts Committee, stated, “Community buy-in is a critical element of public art projects. The Black Lives Matter street painting in Chattanooga was approved by Public Art Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Department of Transportation and the Chattanooga Public Art Commission. It only took 13 days.” The City of Knoxville Public Arts Committee meets Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

The City of Knoxville has received petitions signed by residents both for and against the project. Many people have also reached out, saying they want to see a Black Lives Matter painting, but on another City street. The City is committed to exploring additional options.

Mayor Kincannon said, “I hope we can work together to make this project happen, and when we do, I’ll gladly bring a paint brush and join the effort.”