Allison Thompson Art & Interiors


Enhancing Cities and Landscapes with Public Art

Art requires an audience to make it complete. If you are an art collector hoping to have your artworks exposed to a large audience and have a social impact, public art may be a good option for you to consider. Public art is artworks in any media (murals, paintings, sculptures, video art, and performance art etc.) that is staged in public spaces, usually outside and accessible to all. Public art can come in a wide range of sizes and scales and can be temporarily or permanently installed at a specific location. Cities gain value with public art – social, cultural and economic value. Furthermore, public art enhances a community’s sense of place, adds meaning to our cities, and reflects on our time, who we are, and what we deem as important objects to surround ourselves with.

Importance of Public Art 

Public art is a fascinating area of the art world and an important outlet for artists today, as these artworks are exposed to a large audience, can have social impact and can enhance your status as an artist and as an art collector. What makes public art so unique is discovering how the artwork was made, where it has been chosen to reside and what the meaning behind it is. Public art can be site-specific, meaning artworks are created to exist in a certain place. The artist must take the location and community into account while planning and creating the artwork. Alternatively, public art can be artworks that have already been made and are placed in an appropriate location not specifically picked out ahead of time.

Public art is a creative way to enhance our environment, express community values, heighten our awareness of certain issues, transform a landscape, and create social action and dialogue amongst the community. Public art is art there for everyone to enjoy, it engages the community to form a collective community expression. As the Association for Public Art said, “public art is a wonderful way for artists to respond to our times, reflecting their inner vision to the outside world and create a chronicle of our public experience.”

Making Cities more liveable with Public Art

“Public art is a part of our public history, part of our evolving culture and our collective memory. It reflects and reveals our society and adds meaning to our cities.” – Association for Public Art

Public art is an excellent tool to enhance a city or brands image whilst generating community engagement. Public art projects are an extremely interactive process involving artists, community residents, civic leaders, politicians, design professionals, architects, funding agencies, construction teams and approval agencies. Often times, public art becomes a landmark for a city, reflecting the values, diversity, culture and personalities of that city. Public art can also elevate art tourism within cities, for some, acting as a monument to the city for tourists to visit or as a special quiet thinking place for others. Many times, viewers capture photographs of public art and share the work and their experience with others, extending the reach of public art well beyond the site.

Municipal agencies such as local art agencies or private entities such as nonprofit art organizations typically develop and manage public art programs. Public art may also be created outside of institutional frameworks and be self-funded, and artist-driven. However, if a public art project is publically funded, typically it is part of a cultural plan or a larger urban development. The Vancouver Biennale is a good example of a nonprofit charitable organization that exhibits public art in Vancouver. The Biennale works with established artists the likes of Ai Weiwei and Jonathan Borofsky, and is a good organization to utilize if looking for public art in Canada. 

Benefits for Collectors and Note about Artlink

 Public art is a worthwhile art investment and there are many benefits to being a collector. Public art gives your high-end collection credibility and heightened brand awareness, usually positively impacting your public image. Public art instills meaning; by being a collector of public art you are contributing to the community, giving the community a greater sense of identity and understanding of where we live, work and visit, creating memorable experiences for all. Generally, your name and some inscription can be embedded in a plaque at the foot of the public art installation. This inscription will mention you or your organization as the benefactor of the piece. You will not be forgotten and your legacy will be a part of history. We, at Artlink Canada have worked with public art programs in the past. We believe in the value public art gives to our cities, being a cultural attraction for visitors and creatively inspiring communities for us to live in.

Stephanie Thompson