History & Funding
Recognizing the social and economic benefits realized through an aesthetic experience in public spaces, the public art program’s purpose is to add high quality, site-specific artists’ work to the natural and built environments. In 1984, Salt Lake City established the Percent for Art ordinance, allocating a percentage of eligible City project funds for commissioning artists for services and site-specific artwork to be integrated into new construction projects. As of 2021, that percentage is 1.5%.
Salt Lake City’s growing public art collection includes over 130 permanent artworks, in various mediums, in parks and City buildings, skate parks, recreation centers, sidewalks, city streets and plazas in all seven City Council Districts that make up the city. The City & County Building houses approximately 120 paintings, photographs, etchings, prints, and sculptures.
In addition to funding through the Percent for Art ordinance, the program partners with the Redevelopment Agency of SLC to integrate public art in their city-wide project areas. Since 1998, the public art program has partnered with Utah Transit Authority on Art in Transit, managing the public art projects on the twenty TRAX stations on the light rail system in Salt Lake City. Funding is also available through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and through general bond funds for specific projects.
Salt Lake City’s public art program continually seeks new ways of integrating artwork, by both experienced and emerging artists, into everyday life in our urban surroundings. We support our local artists regularly by opening some opportunities to Utah artists only. We believe that through the experience the Utah artist gains from completing a project, from the application process to the installation, they build their portfolios. This allows them to compete more successfully for public art opportunities, not only again in Utah, but in other states as well. That said, the importance of including artists from out-of-state is crucial in creating an attractive, vibrant, and diverse city and public art programs across the country support out-of-state artists for many of their projects for the same reasons. Our public art program forwards hundreds of national public art opportunities to Utah artists every year. We hope that many Utah artists will be selected to create artwork in other states to support their careers as well as promote our state’s artistic talent.
The public art program includes the following types of public art projects:
Site Specific Commissions
Artists are selected from submitted materials in response to Calls for Artists to design, fabricate and install artwork or artistic enhancements designed for specific locations. These site-specific works generally reflect the history, use, neighborhood or characteristics of the project site. The projects are designed for and/or incorporated into new construction or existing public spaces or facilities.
Since 2006, four different series’ of pedestrian-scale sculptures, Flying Objects, installed in three locations on downtown streets, have presented 48 different sculptures, many of which were completed by artists new to the public art program. Through ongoing revitalization of downtown properties, exciting opportunities for temporary projects will include new media and changing displays. Through these temporary projects the program’s goal to help provide professional development opportunities for artists, particularly those who reside in Utah.
Design Team Projects
The public art program partners with other Salt Lake City Divisions, including Engineering, Parks & Open Lands, and Transportation to place artists on design teams. The artists will consult and collaborate with architects, landscape architects, planners, and engineers to work on construction projects such as bridges, park master plans, and sidewalk and streetscape improvements. These projects may result in art elements that are integrated into the infrastructure or as stand-alone artworks.
Ongoing Integrated Projects
In partnership with Salt Lake City Division of Engineering, the program is developing a plan, as standard practice, to integrate artist-designed elements into new construction or renovation projects. The first project of this kind includes placement of cast bronze medallions designed by local artists in sidewalk, crosswalk and/or street projects.
Public Art Pre-Qualified Artist Pool
The Public Art Program’s Pre-Qualified Artist Pool is comprised of professional artists and artist-led teams, all Utah residents. Each was selected by the Salt Lake City Art Design Board through a competitive application process. The list includes both emerging and established artists who work in variety of mediums. The Pre-Qualified Pool is active for 3 year terms; the current Pool term runs from January 2023 to December 2025.
The Salt Lake City Public Art program selects artists from the Pool for certain public art commissions. Because the list of artists in the Artist Pool is publicly available, other commissioning agencies and artists may take a look at these artists too and use this list as a jumping off point regarding commissions and other opportunities. View the current Public Art Pre-Qualified Artist Pool here.