Salt Lake City’s public art program, which commissions artists’ work for new and existing eligible City-owned buildings and public spaces, was established by ordinance in the early 1980s. Its purpose is to add to the value and experience of the built environment with high quality and site-specific artists’ work. The artists who have been selected over the years for these commissions are proficient in their field, and address not only the design of the work, but also such issues as public safety, structural engineering, and maintenance.
The program provides opportunities for artists to create artwork that enhances or is integrated into public buildings and public spaces. When a new project has been identified a public Call for Artists is issued through email and media releases. The Call for Artists provides interested artists with general information about the project including the commission budget, project background, scope, goals and required submission materials. Many public art projects are open to all professional artists residing in the United States. However, in appreciation of and commitment to our local artists, we often reserve a commission of a multiple piece public art project to Utah artists only or identify projects that are specifically open to artists residing in Utah.
Artist Selection Process
The public art program is managed by the Salt Lake City Arts Council under the direction of the Salt Lake Art Design Board. The Design Board is a seven-member citizen advisory group appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council to oversee the public art program. They are directed, by ordinance, to make recommendations to the Mayor on artist selections for each public art project in the City. Each Design Board member may serve up to two three-year terms. The Design Board includes the following members:
- Three individuals who are professional working artists or arts administrators/educators.
- One architect.
- Three individuals with related expertise in the arts, public process and the benefits and issues related to public art.
By ordinance, the recommendations for selection of artists for works of art, by any reasonable method, together with the reviewing of design, execution and placement, and the acceptance of works of art is the responsibility of the Design Board. They consult with the architects or managers for the project in their artist selection which is subject to final written approval in each instance by the Mayor.
For each project, the Salt Lake Art Design Board determines the project goals, scope of work, the commission budget and the type of public Call for Artists (Request for Proposals or Request for Qualifications). They review all of the properly submitted applications and select the artist/team(s) for the project from those applications. When applicable, they also lead finalist interviews.
One of the submission requirements in the Call for Artists is for the artists to include images of representative work. These images are viewed by the group at the beginning of the review meeting and the artists are scored on their work as represented in their images. Based on the scoring, the group arrives at a shortlist of finalists to consider and begins in-depth discussion while referring to the artists’ submission materials for additional information. This thorough discussion and further review of images results in a recommendation of artist selection which the Design Board forwards to the Mayor for final approval.
Board members are not eligible to receive Salt Lake City Public Art Commissions. Learn more about the Art Design Board.