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 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.
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.
Ebony Bolt "Hope and Humanity" Lenox Hill Hospital, Upper East Side, Manhattan, 2021. Image courtesy of ArtBridge.