History and Achievements
The Phoenix City Council established the Phoenix Public Art Program to create a more beautiful and vibrant city. Since the passage of a Percent-for-Art Ordinance in 1986, Phoenix has become a national leader in integrating art with urban design by fostering innovative collaborations among artists, engineers, landscape architects and other talented city builders. Phoenix Public Art has enhanced the appearance and expanded the function of essential city infrastructure, advanced new thinking about civic spaces and made exemplary public design accessible to all. The projects have improved an array of public places and systems, ranging from water facilities, streetscapes, canals, trails and transit centers to pedestrian bridges, overpasses and underpasses, recycling centers, parks, community centers, airports and other key infrastructure. The projects have earned Phoenix numerous design awards from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence program and other local and national organizations.
Public Art Project Plan
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture works each year with many other city departments, community groups and the Mayor and City Council to develop the annual public art plan. Presented each spring to the Arts and Culture Commission and Mayor and City Council for review and approval, it identifies and budgets projects that offer the greatest potential to improve the design of Phoenix through public art. Project budgets can range from less than $10,000 to several million dollars.
Mapping the City
Phoenix uses a GIS mapping system to see the "big picture" of the city's Capital Improvement Program. By mapping the public buildings and systems that Phoenix plans to build – streets, water, wastewater, storm sewers, public works, parks, transit and more – public art planners can see where new construction and investment offer opportunities for integrated design, and how public funds can be combined to connect projects. This approach maximizes the visibility, efficiency and benefits of city public art investments.
Phoenix Public Art includes the following types of projects:
1. Design Teams – artists work with engineers, landscape architects and architects to develop major construction projects, such as recycling facilities, freeway bridges, streetscape improvements, airport and transit facilities.
2. Site-Specific Commissions - artists design and fabricate works or enhancements to suit specific locations.
3. Temporary Commissions – artists create works or installations to be viewed for a limited time at select public sites.
4. Purchase of Existing Artwork – works are purchased for display as part of the city's permanent collection of portable art, which was begun in 1915.
5. Master Planning – short- and long-range plans are developed to integrate art into specific public programs and initiatives, such as aviation, public works and water capital improvement programs.
6. Artwork Refurbishment – existing artworks sometimes need significant repairs or retrofits to remain in good condition or adjust to changes to their original site. These modifications go beyond routine artwork maintenance activities.