The Importance and Impact of Planning for Public Art

There is a growing interest in public art from across the country. In the Public Art Programs Fiscal Year 2001 report, Americans for the Arts estimated 350 public art programs across the U.S. The 2017 Survey of Public Art Programs identified more than twice as many. With this growth it is important to understand the various ways public art is planned for and implemented in different communities. In this post, we provide an overview of three papers published by Americans for the Arts that speak to the diverse needs of public art programs across the country, and how local institutions are approaching the topic in innovative ways. With a focus on planning for public art from a municipal perspective, growing public art programs in small to mid-sized cities, and recognizing grassroots and folk art in rural communities, these papers show that successful public art values local context and the public art programs are as unique as each community.

Five Reasons Why Public Art Matters

Public art matters to me because I see it as a platform for civic dialogue and as the most democratic of art forms. When done well, a public artwork engages citizens in conversation that can vary from understanding historical and cultural backgrounds, to driving attachment to place and social cohesion. In a world struggling with new ways to connect, public art can make public spaces more approachable. In June of this year, Americans for the Arts worked in collaboration with the 2018 Public Art Network (PAN) Advisory Council to launch “Why Public Art Matters” to provide the field with a tool to help educate community members, local decision makers, and other stakeholders on the value that public art can bring to cities and towns. The resource document provides talking points, reasons, data, and examples of how public art can positively impact a community in five specific areas.

Welcome to the 2018 PAN Year in Review Blog Salon!

This year, 49 projects from across the United States and Canada were selected for the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Year in Review. Each year, three jurors review hundreds of applications to highlight up to 50 public art projects that represent the most compelling work for the year. As part of that recognition, we invited the artists and commissioning agencies to submit blogs for this salon, telling us about lessons they learned and giving us a peek at what it takes to develop a successful public art project. This week on ARTSblog, we present you with posts from half a dozen different perspectives, reflecting on anything from the administrative challenges of public art projects, to the artistic thought processes that brought us these amazing works.

Building Capacity for Creative Placemaking

Creative placemaking has been an ongoing discussion in cities and towns across the country for several years, but where do planners sit in this dialogue? What role does a planner have in the development of a creative placemaking strategy? How can planners incorporate creative placemaking ideas into their projects? Or encourage communities to implement these kinds of projects? Americans for the Arts has partnered with the American Planning Association, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Area Planning Council and The Townscape Institute, on a National Endowment for the Arts funded project to develop a suite of curated resources to assist planners in understanding how arts and culture can impact their work. The tools developed in this project will live as a Knowledgebase on APA’s website, accessible to all who are interested in implementing creative placemaking projects.

Monument to Change

Over the past year, public monuments have been scrutinized and reviewed: What are the roles of these artworks? What relevance do they play in history? In contemporary culture? And, what do they say about the community where they are located? Richmond, Virginia has been looking at their monuments and considering what is missing for quite some time. As Americans for the Arts was looking to enhance the tools we offer to the public art field, the story of a new monument to civil rights activist Maggle L. Walker in Richmond proved to be an ideal subject for a short-form documentary video.

Removing Public Artworks: Process and Policies are Key

In the art world, deaccession is generally defined as permanently removing a work of art from a collection. Art museums, libraries, and other collecting institutions may use a deaccession process to remove pieces from their collections for a variety of reasons. Because of the nuances of municipalities and other public agencies that commission or own artworks, the processes for removing artworks from their collections aren’t easily transferable from their museum or library counterparts. There is still research to done on best practices for deaccessioning a public artwork, but we do know that a thoughtful process is key to addressing the issues that surround an artwork being considered for removal.

Dear Public Art Colleagues: We Stand With You

This has been a trying week for the public art field across the country. I have heard from many of you, expressing concerns and challenges as your communities turn to you for aide in addressing Confederate memorials and symbols in your public arenas. Please know that you are not alone in your work. The conversations and community meetings that have happened and will happen are necessary for our country to move forward. Your role is essential to your community, and we are here to support you.

Welcome to the 2017 PAN Year in Review Blog Salon!

Annually, the PAN Year in Review recognizes outstanding public art projects that represent the most compelling work for the year from across the country. This week on ARTSblog, we present you with posts from more than a dozen different perspectives, reflecting on anything from the administrative challenges of public art projects to the artistic thought processes that brought us these amazing works.

Behind the Scene: Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review 2015

This year marked the 15th anniversary of the Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review, which annually recognizes outstanding public art projects that represent the most compelling work for the year from across the country. Over the years we have had over a thousand applications. Each year, a jury of up to three art professionals reviewed and selected projects to highlight. This week we are posting blogs directly from those involved in the creation of the projects in PAN Year in Review selected by our three art professionals, Peggy Kendellen (Public Art Program Manager at the Regional Arts & Cultural Council) Laurie Jo Reynolds (artist) and Ernest C. Wong (landscape architecture and urban planning professional) and presented on June 11th at the Americans for the Arts Public Art & Placemaking Preconference in Chicago.

The Intersection of Public Art and Arts Education

Across the country, the arts are changing: demographics are shifting, modes of artistic participation are becoming more diverse, and once segmented artistic practices are converging. These changes ring true for both public art and arts education, and over the past year these respective fields have been discussing their convergence.

The Public Art and Arts Education Programs at Americans for the Arts endeavor to explore this intersection, better understand the potential for collaborations, and create tools and resources for encouraging inter-sector cooperation.

As a first step, we have begun to research the shared space. There is an inherent connection between the intrinsic goals of both areas of artistic study and practice.

Public art and arts education have been collaborating informally throughout the past several decades, however as we move towards more formalized practices, the professionalization of both fields, and the siloed funding structures, it is vital to explicitly explore modes of integration and examples of best practices that can inform both arts professionals and decisions makers.

Round-up for Aspirations and Reflections: Emerging Leaders in Public Art Administration

What a great week filled with aspirations and reflections from emerging leaders in the public art field!

Thank you to all of our bloggers who made this salon a success by sharing their thoughts and inspiration for their thoughts and inspirations on their careers and the future of the public art field.

Reading these posts throughout the week has given light to some of the great talent that will be guiding the future of public art. We heard from Kati Stegall reflecting on how we can keep up with the changes happening throughout the country and from Meredith Frazier Britt, an up-and-coming city planner who is eager to work with public art (we need more of her!)

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