Percent For Art
Art needs patrons and connoisseurs for its proliferation and growth. The patronage or encouragement has come from many avenues in the past, mostly royal or religious. During the ancient times the significant and important works of arts were commissioned and funded by the wealthy aristocrats, the royals, or the church itself. This was the only means for the survival and livelihood of artists of those times.
In the contemporary scenario public art is commissioned or attained with the sanction and a sort of an alliance of the government or private organization that owns the space. Some governments are known to have supported and encouraged conception and installation of art in the public spaces in many ways. One of these measures is creating a special budget allowance for artworks in new buildings by implementing a Percent for Art policy. Usually one to two percent of the total cost of a city improvement project is allocated for artwork, however the amount may vary widely from place to place.
However, the funds and costs for administration and maintenance take precedence over the funding or budgets assigned for art. Some places have a pool of money termed as general funds or miscellaneous or any other name, which is used to fund temporary programs or cultural performances and events instead of a fixed project related commission. The percent for art program is implemented and popular in most European countries, Australia, some countries in Africa, and in many cities and states in United States of America. The percent for art policy, however does not apply to each and every capital improvement plan executed by the municipalities.
It was in the year 1959, in Philadelphia that the very first percent for art legislation was ever passed. The form of this implementation however varies from place to place. The government of Quebec for example sticks to its art and architecture integration policy that mandates use of at least 1% of the total budget for artworks in all the publicly funded constructions. In New York City, however the rules are different for any city owned public building at least 1% of the first twenty million dollars invested and half a percent of any amount above that needs to be set aside for art work. The upper limit for this program in New York City is $400,000.
In the city of Toronto, 1% of all construction costs are set aside for public art, however, here there is no fixed upper limit to it. The United Kingdom has tighter purse strings in this context. Percent for art in the UK is per the discretion of the local authorities who execute it under ‘planning gain’ which is entirely negotiable and seldom reaches 1%, even in areas where it is implemented at all. In Ireland there is a proper percent for art program and policy in place which is widely employed by many of the local authorities.
In Queensland, Australia during 2005-2007 ‘art built-in’ was in place, to be replaced in 2008 by a new policy called ‘art + place’ with a special budget assigned by the state government and supported by a curatorial advisory committee.