Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Peek at Public Art Elsewhere

Here in Allentown artists have had some success pulling together public art displays with Hamilton For Rent. The original idea was borrowed from a project on South Street in Philadelphia where artists filled empty shop windows. Local artist Yodi has taken the idea and run with it, coordinating with realtors and property managers. He has recruited fellow artists and arts enthusiasts to carry out these displays.

But the hurdle with these projects, like all art projects, has been funding. None of us have the resources to pay for advertising, posters, materials, etc. But we've made it work. The beauty of this project is that the storefront windows have been offered for free and artists merely need to show up and devise a way to present their work.

I want to share with you what is going on in other locations. If you know of any other places where projects like these are taking place, feel free to leave a comment.

Berkeley, California

This city is home to a Public Art Committee, which develops projects and recruits local artists to carry them out. The city holds a civic art exhibit and has funded sculptures in various locations. The city has three public art galleries and curators who manage them. Berkeley even has a Public Art Fund which pays for projects. The fund receives 1 percent of each eligible capital project, so it is continually replenished as projects are carried out.


The City of Philadelphia Public Art Program is one of the oldest in the country. The city developed the nation's first Percent For Art program in 1959, requiring art in public places as a means of "humanizing and enlivening the urban environment." The city boasts that more than 600 works of art have been commissioned in the program's 50 years. 600!!! The city dedicates up to 1 percent of the funds for its construction contracts to public art.

When it comes to artist partnerships with private property owners, there is the South Street window project. Also, Urban Outfitters regularly recruits artists to do a window installation. Take a look at the Samson Window Project.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Our neighbors to the north are funding art projects in the same way. The City of Calgary Public Art Program is funded by taking 1 percent of the funds from capital projects with budgets over $1 million. That's an automatic $10,000 from every major project. Artist Greg Coates sent me information about a project going on in Calgary (similar to Hamilton For Rent) titled "Open Spaces - Window to a View."

I'm sure if I spent more time looking I could find countless other cities with similar initiatives. They all vary in size and wealth but they share a dedication to the arts. We could learn from their methods and consider these options where we live.


Anonymous said...

Kudos to Yodi for his successful project on Hamilton!

Interesting ideas from around the country. These merit consideration.

Anonymous said...

I know there is much support of the arts in the city, but a lack of financial dedication. Budget issues are difficult to overcome, yet there are times you have to pay to get what you want. Revitalization does not come free.