Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York

Percent for Art

The City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Program makes art accessible and visible throughout our city, one of the world’s cultural capitals. Public art serves as an expression of the community, as well as a landmark. These public sites provide an important venue for all New Yorkers and visitors to appreciate artwork outside the traditional museum or gallery setting. Percent for Art projects are site-specific and engage a variety of media—painting, mosaic, glass, textiles, sculpture, and works that are integrated into infrastructure, or architecture. The Program commissions artists of all races and backgrounds that reflect the diversity of New York City. These projects demonstrate how art that is integrated into its site enhances civic architecture and a wide range of public spaces.

In 1982, the Percent for Art law was initiated by Mayor Edward I. Koch and passed by the Council of the City of New York requiring that one percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction projects be spent on artwork for City facilities. Administrated by the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Program began in 1983 with the development of a procedure for determining eligible projects and an equitable artist selection process.  Nearly 300 projects have been completed since the program’s inception with accumulated art work commissions of over $41 million. Since 2002 almost 100 projects have been completed—a third of the total collection—and more than 70 artist commissions are currently in progress.

The Percent for Art Program offers City agencies the opportunity to acquire or commission works of art specifically for City-owned buildings throughout the five boroughs. The purpose of the Program is to bring artists into the design process and enrich the City’s civic and community buildings.

Download the Percent for Art Timeline (in PDF)

Percent for Art Open Call for Panelists

The Percent for Art program of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs is seeking art professionals to participate as panelists in the selection process for upcoming commissions. Each artist selection panel is composed of three art professionals, one of whom must be an artist, representatives from the City agencies sponsoring the capital project, representatives from the Art Commission as well as representatives from the Borough President's Office, the City Council Member's Office, and the Community Board. With Department of Education projects, the regional office is represented. The art professional panelists are expected to have current knowledge of the community or borough in which the artwork will be commissioned.
We are currently searching for visual arts professionals, including-but not limited to-curators, directors, nonprofit gallery staff, visual arts administrators, art critics and writers, art historians, and public art professionals.
What Does a Panelist Do?
In addition to providing current knowledge of the visual arts, panelists are responsible for:

  • Recommending artists to be considered for the commission.
  • Discussing the artwork's siting and concept.
  • Voting on artist(s) to receive the commission, for a specific artwork to be purchased, or on the feasibility of an artwork to be restored.
The artist selection process usually consists of two meetings. During the first meeting, the panel reviews artists' images and develops a list of finalists to be interviewed for the commission. At the second meeting, the panel interviews the finalists and selects an artist(s) to receive the commission. The panelists are consulted in advance to schedule the meetings, which can last four to six hours. Panelists are paid a modest honorarium of $150 by DCLA.

How to Apply
The Percent for Art program maintains a file of eligible panelists' résumés that will be consulted when new artist selection panels are formed. The résumés will be sorted according to borough. To be considered as a Percent for Art panelist, please send a cover letter that explains why you are interested in becoming a panelist along with a résumé. Please list your borough affiliations in your cover letter. For example, if you live in Queens, but work in Manhattan, please let us know.
Please send résumé and cover letter to:
Percent for Art
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
31 Chambers Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10007
For questions or further information, please call (212) 513-9300.