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The Percent for Art Program: Investing in NYC's Public Art

Mathematical Star by Ellen Harvey, Bedford Stuyvesant Streetscape

At NYCEDC, we’re committed to strengthening New York City’s status as an epicenter for the arts.

This is key to our goals of inclusive innovation and economic growth. In fact, it’s a legislative mandate that a portion of the City-capital-funded projects executed by NYCEDC be allocated for artwork through the Percent for Art program.

Sunbather by Ohad Meromi, Jackson Avenue Streetscape.

About the Percent for Art Program

The original Percent for Art program was signed into law in 1982 by NYC Mayor Ed Koch. The law required that no less than one percent of the first $20 million of City capital funds used in construction projects be allocated for artwork, capped at $400,000. In 2017, the legislation was updated for inflation, increasing the requirement to one percent of the first $50 million of City-capital funds, capped at $900,000. The annual Percent for Art budget is now $4 million. Projects under $5 million are exempt—$50,000 is the minimum budget for a project funded through Percent for Art. Through our Capital Program, we are constantly considering projects for this program.

Pageant by Brian Tolle, Flatbush Avenue Streetscape.

About the Capital Program at NYCEDC

The Capital Program at NYCEDC channels capital-budget investments into design and construction projects in service of New York City’s economic development. Our job is to provide physical infrastructure, facilities, and amenities to strengthen the city’s neighborhoods. Currently, the Capital Program supports over 90 active municipal projects, such as piers and terminals, parks, cultural centers, waterfront spaces, and pedestrian walkways.

Curiouser by Mark Reigelman, to be installed at the Charleston Branch Library on Staten Island.

Integrating a Percent for Art artist into a Capital Program project begins with a selection process involving NYCEDC; Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA); the sponsoring agency; and representatives of the local community, focusing on art professionals. Anyone from these groups, including the community, can recommend artists to DCLA for inclusion in the pool of consideration. During design, the selected artist will work with the project team to integrate the artwork so that it harmonizes with the overall project design.

For centuries, New York City has had a reputation as a world-class cultural destination—and, through the Percent for Art program, we at NYCEDC are doing our part to continue that shared legacy.


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