About 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.