Thursday, October 18, 2018

Public Art Bootcamp, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s award program, is the subject of the publication Capacity Building for Racial Equity in Public Art. ARTS Public Art Program specifies that 1% of eligible city capital improvement project funds be set aside for the commission, purchase, and installation of artworks, integrating artworks and the ideas of artists into a variety of public arenas. A goal of the public art program is to address historic and current institutional racism, and one way that is accomplished is through capacity building for public artists through Public Art Boot Camp, which received an Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Year in Review honor in 2017.

Capacity Building for Racial Equity in Public Art (PDF download) illustrates how public art administrators can shift the field to be more inclusive and effect change by creating a program that intentionally serves artists from under-represented and under-invested communities. While systemic changes take time, capacity building is something that can show almost immediate results.

From 2015 to 2018, ARTS Public Art Boot Camp centered artists of color and provided them with the information and experience they needed to enter the niche world of public art. Public art reflects our history, our society, and defines the space and community it resides in. When diverse artists work in the public realm, people see themselves reflected in public spaces in a way that only commissioning artists of color can do. Cities benefit from a richer visual environment by including everyone’s narrative. Art becomes more culturally relevant and meaningful to everyone.

ARTS published Capacity Building for Racial Equity in Public Art to share the experience and to encourage other cultural organizations and municipalities to change their programs to create opportunities for artists of color.

For more information call Seattle Office of Arts & Culture at (206) 684.7171 or send an email to