City of Providence: Public Art Master Plan

Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism (ACT) and the Art in City Life Commission have unveiled the Art in City Life Plan: A Public Art Initiative for the City of Providence. The Plan establishes a vision for public art, details why public art is important in Providence and puts in place a roadmap for the City to commission and support public art projects and residencies. The Plan outlines opportunities for the City to engage public and private funds art at local and national levels.

“The arts are our city’s life force, and I believe public art should play a major role in Providence,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “After I established the Art in City Life Commission in 2016, the Commission and staff of the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism articulated the need for a comprehensive plan for commissioning work in public spaces. The Art in City Life Plan meets that need and will help add more spectacular artwork in the Creative Capital.”

The Art in City Life ordinance of 1980 recognized that the “City of Providence accepts a responsibility for expanding experience with the visual arts,” called for the appointment of an Art in City Life Commission and a percent for art designation.  In April 2016, Mayor Elorza established Providence’s Art in City Life Commission to develop policies and protocols for the installation of public art. ACT and the Commission soon determined that public art master planning was essential to operationalize rigorous and responsive public art policies and practices.

In spring 2017, the Department engaged Via Partnership, LLP a St. Louis-based consulting group that develops comprehensive public art strategies and facilitates public art projects.  ACT and Via Partnership have worked with the Art in City Life Commission, a stakeholder advisory committee, an internal working group and others to develop the City’s master plan.

“The Commission, along with support of Mayor Elorza and the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism spent the last two years researching and strategizing ways to synthesize the public arts application process. With input from community partners we were able to help organize a Public Art Master Plan that when implemented would usher in a new era of public art in the city of Providence . It is our belief, and mission to enable, not inhibit, future arts projects that promote the rich and diverse culture of Providence,” said eric telfort, art in city life chairman.

Approved by the Art in City Life Commission on April 11, 2018, ACT Public Art will be a new program of the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism.

“I am proud to put forward our Art in City Life Plan, the City’s first comprehensive plan for public art. This plan was supported and built with input from hundreds of residents, public artists and arts administrators, City staff, students, and neighbors. I am proud of the variety of opportunities and strategies recommended in this plan to bring public art to our neighborhoods, civic institutions, and public infrastructure,” said Stephanie Fortunato, Director of the Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism.

ACT Public Art: A Public Art Program for the City of Providence

ACT Public Art will channel the creative energy of the city, manifesting it in a range of artwork and artists’ projects that contribute to shaping the city’s visual identity, improve the quality of life for all residents and create opportunities for engagement, connectivity and community building.

ACT Public Art will take the lead in developing a small collection of large-scale, signature, permanent works of art located in prominent areas that make strong visual statements about Providence and its neighborhoods. To date, ACT has supported public art projects through a variety of mechanisms including temporary installations, embedding art in city infrastructure projects, and providing grants for community-participatory projects. ACT Public Art codifies what has existed to date as well as catalyzes new trajectories for public art: Landmark Public Artworks, Public Art Residencies, Civic Infrastructure Projects, and Temporary Projects.


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