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










Percent for Art

FAQ
September 1983 marked the inception of New York City's Percent for Art Program which is administered by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. This fact sheet responds to the most frequently asked questions and invites you to consult us with additional concerns or ideas.

What is the purpose of the New York City Percent for Art Program?
What is the history of the Percent for Art Program in New York City?
What kind of construction projects are considered by the Program?
How much money is spent and how is it allocated?
What kind of art work is considered?
At what stage of the project is the artist selected?
How are artists selected for the process?
How is the community involved?
How long does a project take from the selection of the artist to the installation of the art work?
How are the artists paid?
Does the Program sponsor competitions?
How do artists apply?

What is the purpose of the New York City Percent for Art Program?

The Percent for Art Program offers City agencies the opportunity to acquire, commission or restore works of art specifically for City-owned buildings throughout the five boroughs.  By bringing artists into the design process, the City's civic and community buildings are enriched. 

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What is the history of the Percent for Art Program in New York City?

In 1965 Mayor Wagner established the Executive Order that allowed City agencies to allocate a portion of a building's construction budget to art work. Although several agencies took advantage of this opportunity, the Order did not provide for consistent implementation procedures.

In 1982 the "Percent for Art" Law(Local Law 65) was passed by the New York City Council requiring that 1% of the budget for eligible Citywide construction projects be spent on art work for those facilities. Implementation of the Program began September 15, 1983 and established a procedure for determining eligible projects and an equitable artist selection process.

From 1983 to 1986, the Percent for Art Program was administered by the Public Art Fund, Inc., a private non-profit arts organization, under the auspices of the Department of Cultural Affairs.   Since 1986 DCLA has had full responsibility for the administration of the program.

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What kind of construction projects are considered by the Program?

The "Percent for Art" law applies to City-owned capital construction projects that provide public services and accessibility.  New construction projects of existing facilities undergoing substantial reconstruction are considered.  These capital projects include firehouses, schools, shelters, police precincts, courthouses, hospitals, clinics, passenger terminals, prisons, detention centers, parks and sanitation facilities.

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How much money is spent and how is it allocated?

Percent for Art projects are funded by allocations from the actual construction budgets of City buildings. 

The law requires that no less than 1% of the first twenty million dollars ($20,000,000), plus no less than one half of 1% of the amount exceeding twenty million dollars be allocated for the art work.  Projects can be capped at $400,000. 

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What kind of art work is considered?

The art work must be located in an area of the facility that is accessible to the public.

Art work has been broadly defined in the Regulations as "all forms of visual arts conceived in any medium, material or combination thereof." It may be commissioned or purchased, or an existing City-owned art work may be restored and re-sited.

The final artwork is determined by the art allocation, nature of the project and an artist selection process involving the City agency, architect, participants in the artist selection panel and members of the community.

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At what stage of the project is the artist selected?

An artist selection panel typically convenes early in the design stage so that the artist can be involved from the beginning.  The art work is considered an integral part of the project process rather than an addition at the project’s completion.

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How are artists selected for the process?

DCLA convenes a unique artist selection panel at the initiation of each project.  The architect presents the project to the panel and may recommend specific artists or concepts.

The panel then recommends sites for the art work and an artist to be commissioned or an art work to be purchased. This recommendation is based on the architect's proposal, the nature of the community and the building's functions.

The panel reviews artists from the Percent for Art Image Registry and artists recommended by the project participants. The panel bases its recommendation on the artist's most current work and any previous commissions.  In some cases the panel asks several artists to submit proposals or interview for a specific project.

The voting members of the panel include:

  • the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs' designee,
  • a representative from the sponsoring City agency,
  • a representative from the Design agency (in some cases)
  • three public art professionals (critics, curators, artists, architects, historians, etc.) appointed by the Commissioner, one of whom must live or work in the borough (and when possible, the community) where the project is located.

In addition, a member of the Art Commission and the Mayor's Office of Construction serve as ex-officio, non-voting panelists.

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How is the community involved?

When a construction project has been identified, the Percent for Art Program notifies the appropriate Borough President and Community Board inviting them to attend the artist selection panel meetings. Both the Borough President and the Community Board are informed of the project's progress.

The site requirements and the nature of the community are of great importance to the panel as it makes its recommendation.

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How long does a project take from the selection of the artist to the installation of the art work?

City construction projects generally take from three to five years to design and build. The artist joining the project at its inception will follow the project schedule.  Artists who have been commissioned should be prepared to present their design to the agency, the architect, the community, and the Art Commission for approval.

The Percent for Art Program acts as a liaison between the artist and the agencies. Procedures have been streamlined to avoid interfering with the construction schedule, but delays in the building's construction are often unavoidable. The artist works closely with the architect in order to remain informed of the building's progress.

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How are the artists paid?

The selected artist has a contract with the architect that addresses the artist's responsibilities and payment schedule for the project. The art allocation must cover the artist's budget including design fee, fabrication, installation, transportation and insurance costs.

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Does the Program sponsor competitions?
For some projects, the Percent for Art Program sponsors competitions. Each artist in the image registry is notified of these special opportunities.

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How do artists apply?

The Percent for Art Image Registry is an important component of the Program that allows artists to participate by maintaining a record of their work. The registry is consulted by the architects, panelists, and City agencies for each project. The Percent for Art staff prepares an image presentation from the registry for each panel meeting.

Artists who are interested in submitting their work for review may download the registration form below, or write for a registration form to: 

Percent for Art
Department of Cultural Affairs
31 Chambers Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10007

The Percent for Art Image Registry is open to any professional visual artist. There is no residency requirement for a Percent for Art Commission. Please send a completed registry form along with submission materials on CD/DVD to the Percent for Art Program. If you are interested in consulting the registry regarding a project, please call the Program office to make an appointment.

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