Long Beach seeks artists to create memorial honoring those affected by COVID

Long Beach officials are seeking artists to create a new memorial that will honor the lives of the people who died during the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes over 1,300 Long Beach residents and more than 96,000 Californians.

The idea to develop a plan and vision for a COVID-19 memorial was originally brought to the City Council by Mayor Robert Garcia in May 2021, where it was unanimously approved.

“As someone who lost loved ones due to COVID, I am grateful there will always be a place in Long Beach to remember and honor them. I thank the COVID-19 Memorial Advisory Committee for their support in bringing this heartfelt project to fruition,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement.

After creating a digital memorial remembering Long Beach residents who lost their lives due to complications of COVID-19 earlier this year, the city announced Friday that it would be accepting proposals for a new, physical COVID-19 memorial.

The artistic memorial is expected to depict healing while capturing the lasting impacts of the pandemic and offer a snapshot of the future, according to the city. It’s also meant to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of essential workers throughout the pandemic.

Two sites, Shoreline Park at Rainbow Harbor and the east and west ends of the Civic Center Complex where Lincoln Park is located, have been tentatively approved by the city as possible locations for the memorial.

Artists will be asked to choose from one of the two site options when submitting a proposal, although creating the memorial at Rainbow Harbor could take up to an additional year-and-a-half from the time an application is submitted to the Coastal Commission, as artwork identified for placement at the lighthouse requires that state panel’s approval and review, according to the city.

The estimated budgets for the two sites also differ, as Rainbow Harbor will have an estimated budget of $400,000 due to several unique aspects of the site. It requires regulatory and technical permitting support, topographic surveys and utility surveys, among several other assessments, according to the city. Meanwhile, the budget for the memorial at the Civic Center Complex is roughly $600,000.

Anyone interested in submitting their artwork for consideration must submit a proposal by Tuesday, Dec. 6, through the city’s Request for Qualification (RFQ) Vendor portal, Long Beach Buys.

A panel consisting of arts professionals, representatives from community-based organizations, personnel from local health care institutions and city staff will then choose and recommend the top-ranked artist and artwork to the City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 13. If approved, the committee can enter into an agreement with the artist.

A timeline of when the memorial will be completed will be shared after the agreement between the city and the artist is finalized, officials said.

City asks for photos of people who died of COVID-19 for digital memorial

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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