City Canvas

About City Canvas

There are more than 300 miles of construction fences and sidewalk sheds that dot New York City neighborhoods. While these temporary protective structures are part of the urban landscape, in most instances they are unappealing and represent the inconvenience of construction projects. City Canvas is a program designed to allow the installation of temporary visual art on eligible temporary protective structures in an effort improve the pedestrian experience for NYC residents and visitors across the five boroughs.

The City Canvas program was initiated as a temporary pilot program and made permanent by the adoption of Local Law 163 in 2021, which became effective on September 1, 2023 and amended the New York City Charter and Building Code to permit the display of artwork on temporary protective structures (i.e., construction sheds, fences, and scaffolding). When filing an initial application permit for a temporary protective structure, property owners are automatically enrolled in the program and are offered an opt out option. Under the City Canvas program, there are two avenues for property owners to install artwork on temporary protective structures, Site-Specific Artwork and Pre-Approved Artwork.


Pre-Approved Artwork

Pre-Approved Artwork is commissioned directly by the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) pursuant to section 2508 of Chapter 67 of the New York City charter, to comply with all expected standards and which property owners may license for a fee to be negotiated with artists. Visit our Licensing and Fee Guidelines for assistance.

DCLA is excited to announce the availability of new artworks by artists selected from our first Pre-Approved Art open call. Click on the thumbnails below to learn more about each project.

Digital illustration by Ebony Bolt of a diverse group of New Yorkers sitting in and moving through foliage.
Ebony Bolt
The Jungle and The City, 2024
Collage by Lauren Camara of a young person sitting at a desk doing homework made up of colorful pattered paper.
Lauren Camara
Paper Stories, 2024
Digital illustration by Venazir Martinez of construction workers and social activists posing amidst scaffolding.

Venazir Martinez
The Shaping of New York, 2024

Digital illustration by Neko Jiang of a woman looking through a subway window into a fantastical forest landscape at cheetahs looking back at her.

Neko Jiang
Hidden Forest, 2024

Photographic portraits by Bayeté Ross Smith organized in a grid depicting the same subjects dressed in different outfits.

Bayeté Ross Smith
Our Kind of People and Mirrors, 2024

Black and white ink drawing Nikki Scioscia of a figure in roller-skates holding a book and surrounded by medicinal plants.

Nikki Scioscia
Plant Walk, 2024

Digital illustration by Zaza Swistel depicting a colorful, surreal architectural landscape where interiors and exteriors is blurred.

Zazu Swistel
The Urbanite’s Clinic for Decadence and Decay, 2024

Digital Collage by Annette Weintraub of an above-ground subway track and a 3D model of a lemon slice.

Annette Weintraub
The Myrtle Walks, 2024

Step by Step Process

  1. Select a piece from the Pre-Approved Artwork Portfolio
  2. Review the Licensing and Fee Guidelines (linked above)
  3. Email a request to use selected Pre-Approved Artwork
  4. DCLA will liaise a connection with the Artist
  5. Negotiate and complete a licensing agreement with the Artist
  6. Artist will provide the art files
  7. Prepare a print layout with a fabricator and confirm it with the Artist
  8. Send DCLA the final print layout and completed license agreement
  9. DCLA will review, sign, and send back an approval notice
  10. Upload the approval notice to DOB NOW

Site-Specific Artwork

Site-Specific Artwork is commissioned by a property owner independently or with the assistance of a partner organization that manages the production of artwork and must be approved by DCLA prior to display pursuant to section 3307.11.2.1 of the New York City building code. For more information please review the Site-Specific Artwork Guidelines and Application.

 Photograph of a colorful mural by Tomashi Jackson painted on a sidewalk shed that depicts waves of banded colors and silhouetted hands.

Tomashi Jackson, “Moon Folk: Passages Toward Greater Understanding,” Hudson Square, Manhattan, 2022. Image courtesy of ArtBridge.

Step by Step Process

  1. Commission an artist, contract a fabricator, and develop a proposal for an artwork
  2. Complete an application (linked above) and email it to
  3. DCLA will review, sign, and send back an approval notice
  4. Upload the approval notice to DOB NOW

Production Organizations

  • ArtBridge is a nonprofit that has been transforming NYC's construction sheds into art exhibitions since 2009. ArtBridge can handle all aspects of LL163 implementation. Their exhibitions create value for site owners by sourcing local artists, and engaging with local stakeholders in the artwork development process.
  • Print Project is a New York-based printing and design shop, specializing in large scale, custom print projects in the New York area. We have had the privilege of serving New York’s largest customers for decades, and look forward to working with you on your next printing project.
  • Seven Willow Collaborative is a real estate and cultural advisory firm developing and executing innovative solutions that activate space, create engagement, drive revenue, and enhance value for corporations, commercial property owners, nonprofits, and municipalities worldwide.