News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: September 12, 2018

Contact:, (212) 513-9323


24 Month City Canvas pilot will allow cultural nonprofits to commission and install artwork on protective construction structures such as construction fences and sidewalk sheds

Applicants are encouraged to include sites in communities across the five boroughs

New York – Today the City launched a call for proposals to install large scale, temporary artwork on protective construction structures – such as construction fences and sheds – throughout the five boroughs. The 24-month pilot program, City Canvas, is a collaboration between NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Office of the Mayor, and the NYC Department of Buildings designed to improve the city’s visual landscape, while giving artists and organizations opportunities to bring their work to public space.

“New York City is one of the most vibrant built environments in the world, and City Canvas is a great opportunity to let some of the artists working in our neighborhoods help to enliven and enhance our public spaces,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “Thanks to our partners at DOB and the Mayor’s Office, we’re excited to launch this pilot initiative exploring ways we can transform our sidewalk sheds and construction fences into canvases for local artists.”

“Sidewalk sheds are unattractive, but they keep us safe. We’re proud to work with our partner agencies on this innovative program. If anyone can bring some love to the sidewalk sheds New Yorkers love to hate, it’s our city’s artists,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE.

“Public art, created by local artists and presented without barriers for all to enjoy and experience, strengthens the sense of community in our neighborhoods and lifts the spirit of our city,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “I’m thrilled that our city has identified the miles of construction fencing as a canvas for artists to present works of public art in every neighborhood. Members of the community can now enjoy art and find the meaning it brings on the way to and from work, on an evening stroll, or from the window of a car.”

There are more than 300 miles of construction fences and sidewalk sheds across New York City. Generally, New York City Construction Codes prohibit posting any material on these temporary protective structures, including sidewalk sheds, construction fences and support scaffolds. But for the City Canvas pilot, the City will permit selected cultural organizations to install visual art on sidewalk sheds and construction fences located on or over City-owned buildings, sidewalks and streets. Specifically, the goals of City Canvas are to:

  • Improve the pedestrian experience for NYC residents and visitors across the five boroughs by transforming temporary protective structures into sites for the display of art; and
  • Increase opportunities for artists and cultural organizations to present artworks that are relevant to the communities surrounding the installation sites.

“Art is a way for people to connect, and promoting the installation of more art in public spaces is a fantastic way to create a stronger sense of community in neighborhoods throughout New York City,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr. “City Canvas is an innovative way to support local artists and build community, all while beautifying otherwise unattractive construction sites. I hope the many great cultural non-profits that serve our city take advantage of this great opportunity, and that it becomes a lasting initiative that brightens our public spaces for many years to come.”

“New York City is full of creative energy and people. The City Canvas pilot program will be a great opportunity to highlight and showcase many local artists and nonprofit partners. I look forward to viewing the transformation of sidewalk sheds and support scaffolding from eyesores into beautification projects within our neighborhoods,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

“Public art has the power to transform neighborhoods, enliven derelict sites, and inspire hearts and minds to make our communities safer places to raise healthy children and families. As such, I commend the City for launching City Canvas, which will add color and creativity to streetscapes across the borough. Brooklyn’s booming art scene will now have an additional opportunity to get involved and give back,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“Take a walk anywhere in Manhattan, and soon you’ll be able to encounter exciting public art on many of the countless sidewalk sheds and construction fences strewn across the borough’s neighborhoods,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Thank you to the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Mayor’s Office, and the Department of Buildings for coming up with this innovative pilot program.”

“This City Canvas program will transform often unsightly construction fences and sidewalk sheds into works of art that will be easily accessible to the public,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “City Canvas will help beautify our neighborhoods while also giving great opportunities for exposure to local artists and cultural organizations in Queens and throughout the City.”

“Staten Island is thriving in terms of culture and art, and we have so many flourishing arts organizations in our community. I encourage each of them to consider applying – and to draw from our borough’s diverse pool of talented artists – to install thoughtful pieces where possible for all to contemplate and enjoy,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo.

The City is seeking proposals from one or more qualified nonprofit organizations to install artwork on at least one location citywide during the pilot period. Selected applicants will be required to scout and secure prospective installation sites. They will also have to select the artist and artwork (either new or existing) for each installation site, with an emphasis on identifying artists from, or artwork related to, the communities within and around the sites. A panel convened by DCLA will review proposed artworks prior to installation. Applicants will be required to explain proposed compensation for the artists and other workers involved in their proposals, and strategies for community engagement in selecting artists and artwork. The selected organization(s) will not receive funding from DCLA or the City of New York to implement City Canvas; they will be responsible for securing adequate funding to implement projects.

The deadline to respond to the call for proposals is Friday, October 12. The pilot program will run for 24 months. Full guidelines and application instructions are available on DCLA’s website.

The launch of City Canvas marks progress on goals and strategies in the CreateNYC cultural plan released in July 2017, namely increasing citywide coordination among City agencies to support art and culture, and expanding opportunities for public art to enhance public space. More information is available at

About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City's vibrant cultural life. Among our primary missions is to ensure adequate public funding for non-profit cultural organizations, both large and small, throughout the five boroughs.

DCLA also works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City's economic vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City's five boroughs.