The Art of the Community: Municipal vs. Local Arts Agency Funding for Public Art


Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work



MA in Arts Administration

Citation of Original Publication


Collection may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. To obtain information or permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Goucher Special Collections & Archives at 410-337-6347 or email
Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States


Public art is the legalized and intentional placement of art in spaces easily accessible by the community. This field has been a contributing factor to community development, planning, and enhancement for thousands of years. Within the last century, government funding for public art has led to a trend of Percent-For-Art ordinances in the United States. Many municipalities have established local legislation that dedicates a portion of available funding, such as capital development projects or specified taxes, to the development of public art projects. There has also been a growth of nonprofit funding for public art, commissioned by LAAs throughout the country. While there are many examples of successful public art projects developed by both municipal government and nonprofit LAAs, those developed by municipalities are subject to greater limitations regarding funding, organizational management, project development, community input, and project evaluation. Without flexible project development and community input, a municipality has a difficult time ascertaining and incorporating the culture and identity of the community into the project, thereby diminishing its likelihood of success. A successful work of public art is one that is positively received, reflected upon, and impactful on the community. As evidenced by interviews with professionals within the field, project analysis, and related research, LAAs are better equipped to achieve this success due to the organizations’ status as nonprofits with their ability to manage projects internally, employ a variety of funding sources, and measure impact. Successful examples of public art commissioned by LAAs demonstrate a range of project development strategies, funding options, and levels of community input that result in projects that are more intimately connected to each unique community. These projects play a significant role in the community as they provide an expression of culture, aesthetics, history, tourism, and awareness. As the field of public art continues to expand across new regions of the country, both LAAs and municipal departments of public art development must take into account community input and project evaluation as they look to produce successful public art projects.