top of page

Sanctioned Street Art: How Public Art is Achieved & Murals Are Made

Public art is created for the public through a collective process. Expressed using any medium, public art aims to inspire while promoting community inclusivity. “Public art is a reflection of how we see the world,” The Association for Public Art defined. Furthermore, the value of public art extends far beyond mere visual enjoyment. It possesses the power to inspire, evoke empathy, entertain, and enhance the economic prosperity of neighboring communities in numerous ways. Yet, as spectators pass massive murals or pause to admire stunning sculptures, onlookers often wonder — how is public art formed and funded? Read below to discover more about:

  • Types of public art

  • The people and organizations involved in making public art possible

  • Popular means to pay for public art

  • The selection process for public art

  • The importance of participatory public art

  • Critical factors for public art achievement

  • Benefits of public art, and

  • How RiseUP for Arts, a public art non-profit in Connecticut, is painting its way across the state

Mediums and Masterpieces Materials, methods, and types of public art include:

  • Architecture-integrated

  • Assembled

  • Built

  • Digital

  • Carved

  • Cast

  • Glass

  • Interactive elements with behavioral design

  • Lighting

  • Mosaics

  • Painted

  • Performance art

  • Permanent outdoor structures

  • Stand-alone works

  • Sculpture

  • Temporary installations

  • Textiles, and more!

Public Art Advocates Public art accomplishments are attained by:

o Approval and funding agencies o Artists o Architects o City planning committees o Civic leaders o Community residents o Construction teams o Cultural offices o Design professionals o Economic development departments o Educational institutions o Elected officials o Engineers o Galleries o Parks and Recreation departments o Private developers and industry o Public art administrators, and o Transit authorities


Funding Public Art to Fruition


The National Civic League reports that 75% of public art projects receive funding through percent-for-art allocations. Percent-for-art ordinances dedicate a small percentage (.05-2%) of capital improvement funds for the commission, procurement, construction, and installation of public art.


Percent-for-art initiatives are prevalent in city and municipal areas and are predominantly implemented in government-owned locations such as libraries, parks, post offices, and subway stations.


As the New York Times specified, the most prominent projects were publicly funded. However, according to Americans for the Arts, private funding is increasing — with privately financed temporary projects making up 25% of all works.


Public art is also sponsored through foundation grants like National Endowment for the Arts or National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2020 alone, Grant Makers for the Arts stated that $1.47 billion was appropriated to the arts from federal, state, and local funds.


Public art is further advanced through tax incentives. For example, historical societies may offer tax credits for eligible public art historic renovation projects. Taxation of large-scale events via a Hotel/Motel Tax may also be allocated to public art before and after an event. Moreover, vacant community buildings can be used by artists for housing or studio space through Tax Increment Financing (TIF).


Additional sources of public art support include:


o Art centers

o Arts councils and advisory boards

o Corporate sponsorshipslocal and national companies

o City and state government programs

o Individual donations

o Parking meter revenue, and

o Proceeds from the sale of city land


Collaborations between private and public entities (for instance, non-profit organizations like RiseUP for Arts and local municipalities) effectively progress public artwork. For example, to enhance existing programs, a city or business could partner with non-profit public art organizations to create innovative spaces for gathering, rest, relaxation, and play. Additionally, empty storefronts, outdoor walls in city centers, and other easily accessible locations can be transformed into art galleries for everyone to enjoy.


Committees Count! The Public Art Selection Processes


Public artists and their works are selected through artist applications, direct commissions, partnership proposals, project requests, or review committees. These committees consist of art professionals and community members who use their combined expertise and local knowledge to make site-specific art selections – ultimately advancing community representation while heightening audience reach and responsiveness.


Criteria for public art committees may include the following:


Art expertise

  • Ability to assess creativity and design skills, materials, and methods of fabrication

  • A network of local, regional, and national artists

  • Experience implementing public art projects, and trends


Community Culture

  • An invested interest in the community

  • Local neighborhood leaders

  • Residents who are diverse in culture, gender, race, religion, and more


Participatory Public Art


Collaborative efforts for creating public art include:


  • Art development partnerships directed by the artist and public

  • Innovative technology that facilitates public interaction, and when

  • The people directly participate in producing public art


Engaging the community in the art creation process through participatory public art is a powerful way to turn passive audiences into active participants. This approach enriches a sense of local pride and accountability for public spaces, making it an effective tool for community empowerment.


Participatory public art embodies the community, its values, and the people who reside where the artwork is located. Consequently, involving the community in planning, selecting, creating, installing, and maintaining public art is crucial in fostering a sense of togetherness.

4 Strategies for Participatory Public Art Success


  1. Municipal and regional planning — To create public art that truly reflects the community's values, involving the community in the planning process is essential. Participatory budgeting is also critical in empowering residents to influence investments and advancements.

  2. Identify and address inequities in public art placement — Bringing public art to historically disadvantaged areas can be achieved through art loan programs and mobile collections. Alternative funding options should also be considered for locations without major capital projects, commonly known as "art deserts."

  3. Instill public art inclusivity — It's vital to showcase art from diverse perspectives beyond the Eurocentric focus of the past. Ensuring that various viewpoints are represented through the artists, collections, and disciplines showcased is imperative to provide a more comprehensive and inclusive art experience.

  4. Participatory collective appreciation — Public art activities and events serve a greater purpose than mere observation. They have the potential to promote the artwork, foster a sense of community, encourage social interaction, and instill pride. Public art resources like applications, lesson plans, and maps provide access to online content for further education, entertainment, and engagement. Bike and scooter tours of public art can also help residents connect. However, it's imperative to practice inclusivity to ensure that these initiatives make a genuinely impactful difference.


The Advantages of Public Art


  • Accessibility — Enjoying public art can be a wonderful experience, whether during the day or at night. In many cases, public art is versatile enough to suit any season and can be put up and taken down with ease. Outdoor public art also encourages people to explore and engage in a safe and welcoming environment.

  • Aesthetic appeal — The presence of public art can offer artistic amenities to both visitors and local residents. Turning mundane spaces into imaginative expressions, pubic art establishes an emotional connection between its surroundings and spectators.

  • Creative intentions with community impact — Art must be accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial means. Public art is the perfect solution to achieve this goal, as it allows individuals to experience art beyond the confines of museums and without admission fees.

  • Enticing to everyone, including enterprises — Communities with public art are popular among current and potential residents. A vibrant cultural scene helps to boost the local economy, increasing business revenue and raising property values.

  • Inspiring critical thinking — The impact of public art is undeniable. It raises awareness, encourages viewers to question their preconceived notions, and expands creative insights.

  • Promoting a memorable message — Public art can communicate important information to the public, highlight city initiatives, and connect companies to their target audience.

Public art enhances the beauty of public spaces, promotes community cohesion, boosts economic growth, and showcases the unique stories of neighborhoods.


Today, people are using the transformative power of paint in cities and towns throughout the United States.


Popular East Coast public art destinations include:


· Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York

· Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

· Providence, Rhode Island, and

· Wynwood, Miami, Florida (to name a few).


In New England, RiseUP for Arts, Connecticut’s only statewide public art non-profit, has steadily painted its way onto the public art scene since 2015. The creative non-profit organization has commissioned over 50 talented independent artists, collaborated with over 100 local and global partners, produced over 150 pause-worthy mural and placemaking projects, and organized over 1,000 community volunteers across Connecticut.


RiseUP for Arts has recently unveiled exciting plans to bring more public art to Hartford, including the tallest mural in New England. With more public art plans on RiseUP's roster for 2023, the state can look forward to even more vibrant and visually stunning landmarks.



Are you seeking to support the Connecticut public art scene?


Do you want to contribute cash or crypto toward creating public art?


Stop by RiseUP's support page to see how you can help make a difference.


163 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page