Public art is a broad term for all art commissioned for public spaces.
It can be in any medium, planned and executed outside of a gallery or museum context, specifically created to be experienced in the public realm.
It takes many forms, including (but not limited to) sculpture, painting, installation, multimedia, sound, performance, or may be integrated into architectural surfaces and landscaping.
Public art is often located in highly accessible public spaces, but sometimes situated in isolated sites, or installed in public places with limited access.
Percent for Art is a program that produces public art. All Percent for Art projects are public art, but not all public art is a Percent for Art project.
Percent for Art programs are based on the percentage of a development’s overall budget being used to commission public artworks.
Government agencies involved in Percent for Art
Most state government agencies strive to incorporate Percent for Art in their construction projects.
The official Percent for Art Scheme was established in 1989 resulting in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Culture and the Arts and Building Management and Works (BMW), who jointly administer it. BMW are one of several agencies responsible for government building projects.
More recently the Percent for Art Scheme has been adapted for use by other State Government agencies. These models are often referred to as percent for art programs, strategies, or policies, as they are based on a percentage of a development’s overall budget being used to commission public artworks.
These agencies include:
Many local governments have public art schemes similar to Percent for Art. These however, are independent of State Government schemes.
Percent for Art budget considerations
For projects over $2 million under the Percent for Art Scheme, the current allocated percentage for public art is up to 1% of the overall budget for the build. This includes new construction and refurbishment. Typically, public art projects range between $20,000 to $400,000 in value but there are also major projects with larger budgets.
For projects valued at less than $2 million under the Percent for Art Scheme, public art can be considered at the discretion of the commissioning agency. The percentage varies according to the budget.
Private developers may consider allocating funds for public art using the percent for art methodology or allocate an amount that matches the scope of the artwork brief.
In some public art programs there is a cash-in-lieu option. In-lieu of commissioning an artwork, the artwork budget is handed over to the commissioning agent to determine the acquisition process and the location for artwork(s). This approach has been used by local governments, State Government agencies, and other organisations.