Barr Foundation and Americans for the Arts release National Scan looking at support for art in the public realm

Friday, April 5, 2019

A challenge for artists and funders working at the intersection of art and the public is to advance both aesthetic and community aims. How do programs balance community development needs and goals with opportunities for artists to experiment? In the spirit of advancing field dialogue, Americans for the Arts and the Barr Foundation are happy to share “Programs Supporting Art in the Public Realm: A National Field Scan.” While not intended to be comprehensive, the scan highlights overarching themes and offers snapshots of 28 programs that are supporting and building capacity for artists to work in the public realm. Detailed summaries from interviews with seven selected programs provide additional insights.

The Scan identified funding, public art, and professional development programs that:

  • support strong and diverse artistic expression;
  • empower artists to be active and creative citizens in their communities;
  • encourage partnerships between artists and community organizations;
  • offer professional development training and technical assistance;
  • utilize cohort-style professional development and/or networking model; and
  • provide opportunities for artists to enhance their visibility and public voice.

The scan was conducted to inform future directions of the New England Foundation for the Arts’ (NEFA) Creative City program. In its pilot phase, Creative City offered direct support for artists at varied stages of experience and career to exercise their creative power as a way to excite the public imagination and engage Boston’s diverse communities. A learning assessment of the pilot was conducted by Americans for the Arts’ Animating Democracy program, and NEFA has just announced the launch of Creative City Boston, a new grant inspired by the Creative City pilot program. 

The Creative City Report and more videos that reflect on highlighting Creative City’s value and impact in Boston can be found at