The La Grande City Council was presented with an idea to bring music to the streets just in time for summer.
Jamie Jacobson, owner of Studio Della Bella Voce, went in front of the council Monday night to request permission to put at least two pianos on or near Adams Avenue to give everyone and anyone the opportunity to play.
“It’s to provide public artistic stimulation in La Grande,” Jacobson told the council. “Music belongs to everyone, but it’s not always easily accessible to everyone.”
Some possible locations include Max Square, U.S. Bank, Community Bank, Umpqua Bank, M.J. Goss, Cook Memorial Library or the Rotary Pavilion at Pioneer Park.
Jacobson said some of the banks have alcoves to house the pianos. Ideally, she would like to see some sort of permanent covering for the pianos. She said they could have tarps over the instruments, as well.
In order to place pianos at the city-owned properties, Max Square, the park or the library, council approval is required, which would happen in July. Jacobson said she’d really like one of the pianos to go in Max Square.
“I think we have a lot of hidden musicians in this area who would want to come and play,” she said.
She said people have told her they are willing to donate their own pianos to this cause. She also said money is already taken care of. She just needs council approval for the city-owned property.
On top of having the pianos placed strategically in the business district, Jacobson wants to do a call-out for artists to paint the instruments.
She said the artists would be given $300 for time and supplies and would need to get permission from the La Grande Art Commission before actually painting the piano.
This is not a new concept, Jacobson said. Many communities have brought pianos to the streets.
In New York City, of the 336 public pianos on the sidewalks, only 1 percent of them have been vandalized, Jacobson said. She said she doesn’t believe vandalism would be a problem here, and if it is, volunteers would remove the graffiti and put the piano back where it was.
She also said the pianos would not be set up in residential areas. The apartments that are along Adams Avenue may be an issue, but Jacobson and the council also discussed having locks on the pianos so they could not be played at night.
Some of the banks that have offered to put the pianos on their property have also agreed to take care of the instruments.
“This won’t cost the city money,” she said. “I just need permission for a location.”
Jacobson said she hopes to have at least two pianos available by this summer.