Public Art Boot Camp, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s award-winning program, is the subject of the publication Capacity Building for Racial Equity in Public Art (pdf).
ARTS’ Public Art Program specifies that 1% of eligible city capital improvement project funds be set aside for the commission, purchase, and installation of artworks, integrating artworks and the ideas of artists into a variety of public arenas. A goal of the public art program is to address historic and current institutional racism and one way we do that is capacity building for public artists through our Public Art Boot Camp program, that received an Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Award in 2017.
Capacity Building for Racial Equity in Public Art illustrates how public art administrators can shift the field to be more inclusive and affect change by creating a program that intentionally serves artists from under-represented and under-invested communities. While systemic changes take time, capacity building is something that can show almost immediate results.
From 2015-18, ARTS’ Public Art Boot Camp centered artists of color and provided them with the information and experience they needed to enter the niche world of public art. Public art reflects our history, society and defines the space and community it resides in. When diverse artists work in the public realm, people see themselves reflected in public space in a way that only commissioning artists of color can do. Cities benefit from a richer visual environment by including everyone’s narrative. Art becomes more culturally relevant and meaningful to everyone.
ARTS published Capacity Building for Racial Equity in Public Art (pdf) to share our experience and to encourage other cultural organizations and municipalities to change their programs to create opportunities for artists of color.
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