City of Reno

Staff Report

Staff Report (For Possible Action): Approval of Agreement with Space Whale LLC and temporary installment of “Space Whale” on City Plaza (30 N. Virginia Street), in the amount of $64,086 (Room Tax Funds).


Department:City Manager - Special EventsSponsors:
Category:Approval of ContractWards:Ward 3

Recommendation and Proposed Motion

Recommendation:  Staff recommends Council approval of the agreement for installment of art on Reno City Plaza in the amount of $64,086 (Room Tax Funds).


Proposed Motion:  I move to approve staff recommendation.

Staff Report Formal Body

Summary: On Tuesday, March 14, 2017 the Reno Arts & Culture Commission (RACC) approved the expenditure of $64,086 to temporarily place the “Space Whale” sculpture at the City Plaza from May 31, 2017 until May 31, 2018. Staff recommends Council ratify the agreement for display of art on Reno City Plaza.


Discussion:  The City has been working with artist Space Whale, LLC. to temporarily install the “Space Whale” sculpture on City Plaza in coordination with the Reno Sesquicentennial (Reno 150) which commences May 9, 2017 until May 9, 2018.


The sculpture was featured at Burning Man 2016The Space Whale is a full scale stained glass humpback whale mother and calf.  The Space Whale, LLC teamed with artist Android Jones to create the sculpture in steel and stained glass.


The sculpture will be installed in the existing footings that were installed on the City Plaza for the sculpture Portal of Evolution.  The cost includes an estimated $30,086 for install at the City Plaza and a monthly payment of $2,000 each month of the term of the contract with another $10,000 for de-install of the sculpture at the end of the contract period.  If the Space Whale is sold prior to the end of the agreement Space Whale LLC will refund the City any monies that City has donated through any of its Board, Commissions and Councils – including this agreement. 


The agreement requires that the Space Whale, LLC purchase and maintain throughout the term, which will include Commercial General Liability insurance covering Bodily Injury and Property Damage with $1,000,000 per occurrence limit and $3,000,000 General Aggregate limit.  Since the sculpture has delicate stained glass the City has also asked that the Space Whale LLC inspect the piece weekly to access any damage, of which the City will pay up to an amount of $2,000 to fix.


This sculpture install is unique from other City temporary sculpture installation contracts because the Space Whale was crowd funded and constructed with more than 40 volunteers of more than 10,000 volunteer hours.  Each volunteer has stock in Space Whale LLC and will receive approximately $50 per month of the monthly $2,000 payment. 


The RACC has recommended Council approval the project because they thought it met the Council’s priorities of vibrant neighborhoods and public places with an emphasis of arts programming.  The RACC also saw the substantial tourism and branding benefit the City will receive from the display of the piece. 


Financial Implications:  The $64,086 for this purchase will come from Room Tax allocations in the Public Art Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 16/17.  The “Space Whale” provides a tourism amenity; it is in compliance with the use of Room Tax Funds. 


Legal Implications:  Legal review completed for compliance with City procedures and Nevada Law.

Meeting History

Apr 12, 2017 12:00 PM Video Reno City Council Regular



Alexis Hill, Arts, Culture and Events Manager, presented the staff report and pointed out that about 60% of the budget for this would be for installation and de-installation. Staff will be looking into possible sponsorships to reduce the cost of renting a crane to install the art.

City Manager Bill Thomas added that arts and culture is one of the pillars of our economic development.

Mayor Schieve pointed out that the funds for this do not come out of the General Fund.

Ms. Hill confirmed that two percent of Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) funds collected from room taxes is specifically allocated to tourism-driven activities, including public art.

Council Member Brekhus requested clarification regarding whether or not the City continues to pay $2,000 a month if the artwork remains longer than one year.

Julie Towler, Deputy City Attorney, discussed the current draft of the agreement and stated that it can be reworded to allow it to come back to City Council to renegotiate the month-to-month rent after the first year.

Council Member Brekhus asked if the Reno Municipal Code (RMC) contemplates rental or just permanent acquisition.

Ms. Hill stated that these funds have been used in the past for footings for pieces of artwork.

Council Member Duerr stated the Arts and Culture Commission did not anticipate any problems with rental versus acquisition.

Matt Schultz, Space Whale artist, no address provided, discussed the Space Whale art.

On-line public comment in support was received from: 1) Janet Moran, 2) Dawn Looney-Stevens, 3) Lenora Graham, 4) Kimberli Cook, 5) Zane Wise, 6) Abraham Finkelstein, 7) Ilana Murray, 8) Justin Grathwohl, 9) Rory Dowd, 10) Doug Erwin, 11) Stephen Devencenzi, 12) Shannon Cambe, 13) Simon Petruc, 14) Serena Bolduc, 15) Jaya Bauer, and 16) Ashley Jennings.

City Manager Thomas stated that the contract will include an additional year allowance for the art to be there without compensation. If compensation is requested after one year, that would come back to the Council.

The Council approved the agreement as amended.

MOVER:Naomi Duerr, Councilmember
SECONDER:David Bobzien, Councilmember
AYES:Hillary Schieve, Jenny Brekhus, Naomi Duerr, Oscar Delgado, Paul McKenzie, Neoma Jardon, David Bobzien