Public Art 101: What is the Percent for Art Program?

     First, a little background; I have presented maquettes and artwork designs for 10 projects and have been awarded 6. While building up my career as an active artist I spent 6 years working for one of the world's best fabricators for public art, Mosaika Art & Design. Here’s a video of my project, “Croissance (Growth)” being fabricated in their atelier.

    The information I’m sharing here will be related to permanent commissions primarily through “percent for art programs”. In Quebec it’s called the “politique d’intégration des arts à l’architecture”. The program is called “Percent for Art” because roughly 1% of the construction budget of a publicly funded structure must be devoted to integrated art or an artwork acquisition. This program applies to new buildings or expansion projects of $150,000 or more, for places deemed as private or commercial buildings. It does not pertain to roads, bridges, viaducs, or parking lots (unless part of a larger complex, like the McGill University Health Centre). Typical locations would be: theatres, museums, libraries, schools, university buildings, health centres, nursing homes, hospitals, sports centres, bus stops, courthouses, etc.
Quebec's program has been around a long time, but this same system exists in many other cities across Canada (like Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, amongst others). They can also be found all across the US. 

How is the percentage for art calculated?

It depends on the cost of the project, and the breakdown for projects in Quebec goes like this:

- $150,000 - $400,000: 1.75% (artwork acquisition between $2, 625 - $7000)

- $400,000 - $2 million: 1.5% ($6,000 to $30,000)

- $2 million - $5 million: $30,000 for first 2 million then 1.25% for remaining ($30,000 - $67,500)

- $5 million and over: $67,500 for first $5 million then .50% for remaining ($67, 500 and over)


    Next time on Public Art 101, I’ll give you some of my best tips and tricks and do some Public Art Mythbusting! I’m looking forward to reading comments and answering your questions below. If you like my content and want to read more, come follow me on Twitter!