Tuesday, September 7

Cool Idea!

Iowa City works to expand popular public piano idea

Iowa City Press Citizen

Iowa City, Ia. — When Marc Moen heads outside at night to cover the public piano in front of Plaza Towers, he's reluctant to bring the music to a halt.

He's not the only one who feels that way.

The city will allow the two pianos on downtown walks to stay up through October. It has established a permit process to allow new pianos to be rolled out this fall and in future years.

Moen, a real estate developer who began the Downtown Piano Project with business owner Mark Ginsberg in July as a public art endeavor, said enthusiasm has been overwhelming and he expects more businesses to put out pianos.
Two uprights sit outside Moen's Plaza Towers, 221 E. College St. in the Pedestrian Mall, and M.C. Ginsberg at 110 E. Washington St., where passers-by can take a seat and strike up a tune.

"I hate going down and covering it up because almost always I have to tell people it's time to cover it," Moen said.

The initial agreement between the businessmen and the city granted them permission to have the pianos on the public right of way through Oct. 1. The new permits will allow the pianos to be in place March 1 through Oct. 31.
The two pianos are bolted to the concrete and have all-weather covers that are locked each night. Moen said they have had no problems with vandalism in the two months they have been in place.

Connie Champion, a city council member who recently voted in favor of the permit system for more pianos, said her downtown clothing shop will partner with several other businesses to put a piano in front of Herteen and Stocker Jewelers in the north end of the Pedestrian Mall.
Champion said, "You see people of all ages sitting down and playing them for a while. Some of them are good, and some of them are really bad. But that's part of the fun, and the kids seem to really like it."

The pianos require a business' financial commitment of purchasing the instrument, having it bolted down and ordering the cover, and the time commitment to have someone cover it each night, Moen said.

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