Like all public goods and services, public art requires the development of strong relationships with key local government and community members. Public art—a wide-ranging art form encompassing both temporary and permanent works—is typically developed as part of a larger construction or development project and is generally administered through a local arts agency. There are more than 350 public art programs across the United States comprising both publicly and privately administered and funded programs.
The most common public art programs administered through local arts agencies are percent-for-art programs, which fund public art projects through capital construction funds of typically one to two percent of the total construction budget. Capital projects can include municipal buildings, convention centers, and outdoor spaces like public plazas and parks.
Public art programs are also administered through transportation entities including metropolitan transit systems and airports. Bus and subway stations, airport facilities, walking trails, and bike routes are the fastest growing segment of public art expansion.
Public art is a constantly evolving art form, moving away from commemorative statues or abstract modernist sculpture to new modes of expression, materials, and technology, and most importantly a relationship between the art form and audience.
Public art is inherently intertwined with public process, and local arts agencies can engage the public in the design, creation, approval, and implementation of work.
Public art is an integral part of any local arts agency (LAA) programming and builds audiences and communities physically, culturally, and economically. Public art is an investment in a city’s well-being that pays off for years to come.
- Eighty-eight percent of the responding LAAs report that they are involved in the planning, development, and/or creation of public art in their community.
- 74 percent are directly involved in public art planning, developing, and/or creating public art through their own organizational activities.
- 24 percent are indirectly involved in public art, supporting the planning, development, and/or creation art through a grant or contract awarded to an organization or artist in their community.
- 10 percent are involved in public art both directly and indirectly.
From the December 2010 Monograph Local Arts Agencies 2010. [PDF, 578KB]
Americans for the Arts Public Art Network (PAN) is the only professional network in the United States dedicated to public art. If you are actively involved in public art or interested in the field, PAN provides the information and tools to support public art programs and projects in your community.
PAN is the portal for public art best practices, advocacy, professional development, and peer networking with more than 1000 professionals including artists, arts administrators and commissioners, architects and designers, business and community leaders, and elected officials.
PAN provides free online information as well as expanded resources—a benefit of membership to help expand your program and advance the field. Learn more about PAN.
Looking for public art project commission? Have a project opportunity to post online? The PAN Listserv is the go-to resource to post and respond to opportunities, as well as a question and answer forum.
Professional Development Opportunities
There are a variety of professional development opportunities available to PAN participants, including:
- Free live or on-demand webinars targeted at topics you need to advance your program or secure that first project commission.
- The Public Art Preconference prior to Americans for the Arts Annual Convention, where more than 200 public artists and administrators gather together to learn from each other.
You must be a member of Americans for the Arts to participate in PAN. Join Americans for the Arts to take advantage of all PAN has to offer.