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Arts & Culture - Public Art & Design Program

Public Art and Design Program logo

"We must infuse our lives with art." - Maya Angelou, 1990, Arts & Public Policy Lecture

On October 6, 2005, after nearly three years of research and advocacy, the Clearwater City Council approved Ordinance NO. 7489-05, creating the Clearwater Public Art and Design Program. Established as a high priority goal in the 2002 Clearwater Cultural Plan, the Public Art and Design Program will add to the visual identity of the City, creating memorable images of the City for visitors and residents alike. Public art will reinforce Clearwater's role as an emerging regional leader in culture, recreation and environmental management, and will support the City's development as a wonderful place to live, learn, work and play.

The Clearwater Public Art and Design Program, which took effect on October 1, 2006, requires that City capital improvement projects (CIP) with a construction budget greater than $500,000 must contribute 1% of the project's aggregate job value (AJV) towards the purchase and installation of on-site public art. This affects both new construction and renovation projects including buildings, trails, parking facilities, bridges and other aboveground projects. The Ordinance also places a similar requirement on eligible private development projects with aggregate job values equal to and in excess of $5 million. Private developers must either allocate 1% of their project's AJV towards the purchase and installation of on-site public art, OR, must contribute 0.75% of the project's AJV to the City's Public Art Discretionary Fund, which is used to supplement purchases of public artwork for City CIP projects and also to commission artwork that is not linked to a CIP.

The Clearwater Public Art and Design Program recently completed the Public Art and Design Master Plan, establishing the criteria, policies and priorities that will be used to successfully manage and direct the public art program for years to come. In utilizing the Master Plan, the public art program will identify important places for public art throughout Clearwater and generate a shared vision of public art for both City Capital Improvement Projects and private development projects alike.

Image from Guys and Dolls production
Robert Indiana, LOVE (Philadelphia, PA)

What is Public Art?

Public art is artwork that is in the public realm, regardless of whether it is acquired through public or private funding. Public art can include anything from more traditional art objects like sculptures, paintings, fountains and mosaics to manhole covers, paving patterns, lighting and other functional elements created by an artist.

Why Have Public Art?

Communities through the country have been using public art for decades to create a sense of place and improve the quality and design of buildings and private developments, streetscapes and public places. As a result, public art has been integrated into the daily lives of citizens from cities around the country including Seattle, WA where artists have designed manhole covers, fountains, benches and tree grates to Miami, FL where artists have constructed a highway sound wall that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Public art creates a strong feeling of identity, which results in an increased amount of tourism and economic development.

There are approximately 350 municipalities with public art programs in North America that actively commission artists to create public art for all types of public infrastructure. Some cities, where art in public places is plentiful, have become known as "museums without walls" as their artwork has become so accessible to citizens and visitors.

Image from Guys and Dolls production
Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate (Chicago, IL)

How is Public Art Funded?

There are a number of different funding sources for public art, however, the most common source is through a percent-for-art ordinance in which cities and municipalities dedicate a percentage of capital improvement project (CIP) budgets (ranging from 0.5% to 2%) towards the purchase of on-site public artwork. Other funding sources for public art include: public/private partnerships, grant/foundation support, developer incentive programs, or gifts & loans.

The Clearwater Public Art and Design Program is funded by Ordinance NO. 7489-05, which includes a requirement on both City capital improvement projects (CIP) and private development projects with aggregate job values of $5 million and greater.

What Can Public Art Do for Clearwater?

By adding public art, the City of Clearwater can establish a sense of place within its public spaces, fostering civic pride and creating a sense of community identity. The public spaces created by public art can be used for anything from quiet contemplation to active community dialogue. Public art in Clearwater will add to its visual identity, creating memorable images of the City for visitors and residents alike. Public art will also reinforce Clearwater's role as an emerging regional leader in culture, recreation and environmental management, and it will support the City's development as a wonderful place to live, learn, work and play.

Image from Guys and Dolls production
Hal Stowers, Sun Time (Clearwater, FL)

What Can Public Art Do for Private Developers?

In addition to publicly funded art projects, cities and counties across the United States and Canada are working with developers to include public art components in private development projects. Developers are finding that commissioning artwork is more than just good citizenship - it's good business. In addition to enhancing the overall quality of a project and infusing it with character, on-site public art is proven to increase the value and marketability of the developer's property. Public art often becomes a "landmark," making a business notable amongst its competitors and enhancing its corporate image, often more efficiently than a targeted marketing campaign.

To assist private developers with the process of commissioning public art, the Clearwater Cultural Affairs Division has created a Private Developer's Information Packet, which guides developers through the steps necessary to comply with the Public Art Ordinance.

Useful Public Art Web Site Links