A challenge for artists and funders in this intersectional work is to advance both aesthetic and community aims. How do programs balance community development needs and goals with opportunities for artists to experiment? What kinds of supports are needed to help community partners, crucial to the impact of the work, fully engage with artists? What services best support artists who are building their capacity for public realm production and community engagement? What funding strategies and practice standards help ensure projects that meet high marks for both aesthetic achievement and community value?
In the spirit of advancing field dialogue in this arena, Americans for the Arts and the Barr Foundation are happy to share the findings of a National Scan of Programs Supporting Art in the Public Realm. The scan, while not intended to be comprehensive, highlights overarching themes and offers snapshots of 30 programs supporting and building capacity for artists to work in the public realm. Detailed summaries from interviews with seven selected programs provide additional insights.
This scan was conducted to inform future directions of the New England Foundation for the Arts' (NEFA) Creative City program. Creative City's pilot phase offered direct support for artists at varied stages of experience and career to exercise their creative power to excite the public imagination and engage Boston's diverse communities. A report on Creative City's pilot phase and videos highlighting its value and impact in Boston can be found at: nefa.org/CreativeCityLearning.