Karen Bubb, Cultural Planner


Karen Bubb leads the implementation of Boise’s Cultural Plan. This includes introducing the plan to residents; creating and managing mini-plans based on goals and objectives; working with internal and external partners to develop cultural policy and programming; and serve as a liaison regarding planning and development efforts. In her role as Cultural Planner, she leads dynamic workshops and offers one-on-one consulting for artists, developers, and community groups who aspire to impact Boise’s cultural landscape.

 “As the lead for the creation of Boise’s first Cultural Plan, I’m excited for the opportunity to implement our vision for an integrated, inspiring cultural environment in Boise.”

For nineteen years Karen Bubb has worked as Boise’s Public Arts Manager to evolve the city’s public art collection. The first major breakthrough during her tenure was when the Percent for Art ordinance passed in 2001, a foresighted decision marking the beginning of the city’s significant investment in public art. A second highlight for Bubb was the historic City Council meeting during which Arts & History became a full department. Bubb was the interim director of the Boise City Arts Commission at the time and felt very proud that this stabilization for arts and history had taken place under her leadership.

“I am inspired by people and cities who invest in creating places of meaning and beauty for the public to gather, have fun and connect with each other. Doing this work in my own hometown has an additional layer of meaning and value to me.”

A believer in the arts as a catalyst for community building, Bubb remembers the dedication party for Downtown’s one-of-a-kind Basque Block in 2000 as part of Jaialdi as a key moment. “A huge crowd, Basque dancers, ribbon cutting, dignitaries from the Basque Country. It was an enormous accomplishment with many partners, but it all started because we wanted to mark the block with public art. The community connected around valuing culture.”

Bubb served for six years on the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Board and in 2012 she was honored with the Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Arts Administration. She is Co-Founder of Surel’s Place, an artist-in-residence program, and a Trustee of the Alexa Rose Cultural and Mitchell Family Foundations. Bubb earned her MPA and a Graduate Certificate in Community and Regional Planning from BSU, and a BFA from University of Oregon. A visual artist who works primarily in encaustic painting, Bubb is a member of Boise Open Studio Collective Organization (BOSCO). She teaches Design Thinking and Creativity at Boise State University.