Why Public Art?

The Black Rock Arts Foundation believes public art helps engage a community and define themselves in unique and creative ways, help strengthen pride in the community, connects individuals and communities across boundaries of geography and points of view and enhances the opportunity for the community to interact with artists and art as a means to connect with each other.

This is what Janet Kagen, the vice-chair of the Public Art Network (PAN) of Americans for the Arts and a founding principal of the Percent for Art Collaborative has to say about public Art. “An average of 55 million viewers experience public art firsthand everyday, approximately 1,000 times the audience experiencing art galleries, museums, and theaters combined; artworks at airports and subways are seen everyday by over 5 million travelers. An average public art project provides 50 times the economic impact of arts events in traditional venues, yet the cost to the public for public art is less than 50-cents per taxpayer per year (based on the amount of public funding [in 2002] used to fund public art.) More money is spent cleaning up unwanted graffiti than is spent on all the public art in most major American cities. Public art receives ten times the media attention other art forms receive.”

So I have seen this in action. I remember when David Best and his crew built the Temple on Hayes’ Green, as part of BRAF’s Civic Arts Program. The community began to own the Temple, and write on the Temple about their losses and hopes and joys. I remember when a friend of mine talked about having a whole new point of view after the Temple came to her neighborhood.

So do you have a story about public art, and it’s impact on us? We would love to hear from you!!

photo: Steve Williams

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