FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
City of Phoenix Public Art Program is one of the most active and diverse
municipal art programs in the United States. More than 195 projects have been
completed since 1986 and approximately 30 more are in progress. Below are some
frequently asked questions about the program:
Q: What is the City of Phoenix Public Art Program?
A: The Public Art Program was established by the Phoenix City Council to
involve artists with other design professionals in making Phoenix a more
beautiful and vibrant city. The program works on the public's behalf to select
the highest quality artwork, create distinctive community landmarks, and
involve the community in the design of essential public buildings, systems and
spaces. It also offers professional development opportunities for Arizona
artists to develop their careers.
Q: When was the Public Art Program established?
A: The program was created in 1986 through an ordinance that allocates one
percent of the city's annual Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to public art
Q: Where does Public Art funding come from?
A: Public art is supported with a penny from every CIP dollar used to build or
improve city infrastructure, such as streets, parks, airports, libraries,
community centers, recycling centers and more.
Q: Can this designated funding be used for other purposes?
A: No. CIP funds must be used to design and build city projects. They cannot be
used to hire city workers, such as librarians, police or firefighters, or pay
to operate public buildings, like libraries, senior centers, parks and swimming
Q: Does the City's public art investment affect the local economy?
A: Yes. Because Phoenix public art enhances city buildings and infrastructure,
most of the work is carried out by local construction and fabrication trades.
Since 2005, when POAC began tracking the flow of funds into the Arizona
economy, more than 80 percent of public art spending has gone to local
contractors and suppliers.
Q: Which City department oversees the Public Art Program?
A: The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture oversees the program – phoenix.gov/arts or 602-262-4637
Q: How are artists selected?
A: Most artists are selected through a competitive process that begins with an
open call, also known as a request for qualifications (RFQ). This insures that
professional artists have the broadest possible access to City public art
opportunities. A selection panel is assembled to recommend artists for each
project. The panel includes artists, arts professionals, staff from the funding
city department and representatives of the community where the project is
located. Other selection methods may be used for projects requiring highly
specialized talents or approaches.
Q: What is the panel's role?
A: The panel screens applicants for the quality of their work, their suitability
for the project, and their ability to work well with the community and other
design professionals. The panel can directly recommend an artist or team after
reviewing the talent pool, or it can select finalists to develop concepts and
interview before making a final recommendation.
Q: What occurs after the panel makes a recommendation?
A: Recommendations are reviewed by the Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission, a
volunteer citizen advisory board, and approved by the Mayor and City Council
before artists are placed under contract.
Q: How can Phoenix residents participate in the Public Art Program
A: Artists work directly with city residents and other stakeholders to create
projects that contribute to Phoenix's unique sense of place. Community meetings
are held wherever projects are developed, so that residents can share their
thoughts and insights with artists. Whenever possible, artists use those
community insights to develop their designs.
Q: Where have art projects been placed?
A: Artwork has been integrated into a wide range of public buildings and
spaces, including neighborhood parks, community centers, bridges, plazas,
streets, canal banks, freeway overpasses, recycling centers, airports and other
important civic features. Information about completed public art projects
throughout the city can be found at phoenix.gov/arts.
Q: Have any projects received special recognition?
A: The Public Art Program has garnered numerous awards for design excellence,
including two Design for Transportation Awards from the U.S. Department of
Transportation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition, the
program has been honored with many Arizona Forward Association Environmental
Excellence Awards and Public Art Network Year in Review recognitions. Its
achievements have been featured both online and in print in The New York Times,
Newsweek Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Art in America, Places, The
Atlantic Monthly, Landscape Architecture, Dezeen and many other publications
Q: How are projects picked?
A: The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture works with the community, other city
departments and the Mayor and City Council to develop the annual Public Art
Project Plan. The plan identifies capital improvement projects and sites that
could benefit the most from public art enhancements. Projects are sometimes
concentrated in specific areas of the city to maximize the benefits of where
multiple capital improvement projects are underway.
Q: Who approves the annual public art plan?
A: The Public Art Project Plan is reviewed each spring by the Arts and Culture
Commission and the Phoenix City Council. Budgets for individual projects range
from less than $10,000 to more than $2.5 million.
Q: Where are the opportunities for Arizona artists?
A: The Public Art Program is committed to providing opportunities for
professional Arizona artists. Since 1986, more than 50 percent of city-sponsored
public art projects have been created by Arizona artists and designers.
Professional Arizona artists are encouraged to compete for all city of Phoenix
public art projects. Some Arizona public artists who get their start with
projects in Phoenix go on to advance their careers through projects nationwide.
Q: Why don't you make all public art projects available only to
A: Great cities attract great talent from throughout the world. This is
especially true of creative economies at the heart of our increasingly global
trade. That's why leading corporations, professional sports teams, and our
ballet, symphony and theater companies hire the best brains, athletes and
artists they can. Keeping Phoenix's cultural doors open to the world brings Phoenix
the best return on its cultural investments. It also helps to assure that other
cities will continue to welcome and hire Arizona artists, enabling our artists
to build careers nationwide.
Q: I don't like some public art. What can I do?
A: Public art is no different from other public works in its power to stir
discussion and controversy. For everyone who likes a project, it might be easy
to find someone else who doesn't. In the end, public art is about community
engagement and dialogue. Over time, artworks that are initially met with mixed
public reaction eventually become accepted as part of the community's cultural
fabric. If you would like to become involved in the public art process, contact
the Office of Arts and Culture, 602-262-4637.
Q: Why should I care about public art?
A: Public art plays an important role in shaping our city and surroundings. By
involving the public in improving the appearance and function of key civic
buildings, spaces and systems, it can help make Phoenix a better place to live
Q: If the city has budget problems, why do you still do public
A: While the city's operating budget is challenged from time to time, new and
expanded capital infrastructure is still needed to meet the needs of our
growing community. By improving infrastructure design public art enriches our
built environment and creates a more beautiful city.
Q: How does art benefit the public during difficult economic
A: Public art projects tied to improving our infrastructure support a wide
range of local design, engineering, construction and fabrication jobs. People
coming to see major new works of art also contribute money to the economy
through local sales tax.
Q: Is Phoenix the only place with a public art program?
A: No. Most leading American cities and neighboring Valley cities have public
art programs. Phoenix is among more than 300 publicly funded public art
Q: Is government funding of the arts new?
A: No. The U.S. has a proud history of government support of the arts, dating
back to the 1800s when Congress began funding the creation of murals, paintings
and sculptures for the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Government arts support
expanded in the 1930s, when the Works Progress Administration funded public
infrastructure and art programs to create jobs by building a wide range of
essential public works during the Great Depression. The City of Phoenix is
proud to have a successful Public Art Program that involves residents and
artists in the process of creating a more beautiful city.
For more information regarding the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture and the
Public Art Program call 602-262-4637 or visit phoenix.gov/arts .