Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Public art master planning for municipal government is the process of strategically planning the placement of public art objects, and the processes used to administer a public art program. It is a broad process that combines urban design and planning, artistic practice, public policy, local government management, and many other elements.

Due to this broad background, the master plan of a public art program is a complex document with many requirements. This analysis attempts to answer the following research questions:

  • What is the common process for developing a public art master plan?
  • What are the core components of a public art master plan?
  • What are the recommended practices in those core components?

These questions were explored by reviewing the public art master plans of ten selected cities in three population groups, and consulting data and literature on public art programs. The number of plans in each population group were weighted based on the amount of public art programs in population ranges according to data provided in A Detailed Statistical Report on the Budgets and Programming of the Nation’s Public Art Programs During Fiscal Year 2001 published by Americans for the Arts. Three plans were selected from small cities (500,000).

From the review of the plans and relevant literature on the topic, the most common process for developing a public art master plan is through a broad taskforce or commission of community representatives. This group typically has members from local arts community groups, political leaders, city staff, artists, engineers and design professionals, and other stakeholders. Literature recommends that this body be composed of seven to nine members and employ the use of expert consultants to assist in the creation of the plan.

Twelve core components of public art master plans were also identified from this analysis. These components are:

1. Goals and Vision

2. Integration with other planning

3. Creating a Public Art Authority

4. Funding

5. Site Selection

6. Artist Selection

7. Staffing or Contracting Program Administration

8. Documentation of Public Art

9. Maintenance or Public Art

10. Acquisition and Removal of Public Art

11. The Receipt of Public Art Gifts

12. Educational Opportunities

The common practices for these components have been researched in public art literature and through their inclusion in actual public art master plans. Additional and more current research on the behavior and activities of public art programs is needed in order to better understand how public art master planning affects outcomes in the community.