Acquiring public art

The urban environment has a significant impact on people’s health, daily life, well-being, and recognition

The urban environment has a significant impact on people’s health, daily life, well-being, and recognition

Public art can be integrated into fixed structures in public spaces, for example. The best results are achieved when a designer or artist is involved as part of the construction team well in advance.

The planning process for public art in urban design utilizes the methods of service design. In this case, an art consultant acts as an expert throughout the entire process, from design and artist selection to contract negotiation, implementation, and communication.

The most common procurement models for public art are competitions, direct commissioning, portfolio searches, and sketch competitions. Regardless of the method, it is advisable to utilize art expertise in the selection process.

Four ways to acquire public art

1. Art competition

An art competition can be organized either as a public competition open to all professional artists or as an invitation-only competition for selected artists. Prizes and recognition awards are allocated for the competition. In an invitation-only competition, each invited artist is paid an equal fee for participating in the competition.

2. Direct procurement

Art can be acquired by commissioning it directly from a selected artist. Quality should be given sufficient weight in direct procurements. Experience is of key importance, and effort should be put into reviewing work samples and evaluating them. The services of an art consultant can also be used to evaluate direct procurement.

3. Portfolio submission

The procurement process proceeds in two stages. In the first stage, artists are asked to submit, for example, images of their production, a CV and a statement of why they would be qualified or interested in the task. No sketch proposals are submitted at this stage. In the second stage, based on the portfolios, either a direct order is made, a restricted competition is organized, or 2-10 artists or artist groups are invited to preliminary negotiations, in which case the process is a sketch competition method.

4. Sketch competition

In this procedure, sketches are commissioned simultaneously from several artists. During the sketch phase, there is a discussion between the client and the artists about the progress of the work. A contract is made for participating in the sketch phase, which defines the scope of the job. A fee is paid to all participants in the sketch phase. The further development of the selected artwork is done in collaboration with the artist. A separate implementation contract is drawn up with the artist, and a fee is paid for the implementation.

How to finance art ac­qui­si­tions?

Public art is an investment for both public and private builders. Its profitability can be viewed from several perspectives. Public art can enhance the image of a residential area, thereby increasing the value and demand for housing. It can also promote the reputation and attractiveness of a locality among businesses, investors, taxpayers, and tourists. Public art can be used as part of urban or regional development. If it succeeds in improving people’s well-being, activity, and innovation, it can have regional economic significance.

Here are the most common ways to finance public art. You can also find up-to-date information on public art projects and implementation methods on the website

The endowment model

The endowment model is a way of financing public art, where a certain area’s developers are required to pay an art fee per square meter when they receive the land, which is used to finance the creation and maintenance of the area’s public art. The endowment can also be used to finance various cultural events.

Integrated art

Integrated art refers to art that is integrated into the structure being built. Art can also replace other structures, such as surface materials, making art both a permanent part of urban architecture and cost-effective.

The percentage princible

The percentage principle refers to the principle that a certain percentage, usually 0.5-2% of the cost of a construction project, is allocated to the acquisition of artwork in connection with the project.

Church textiles and church art

Many churches acquire at least church textiles and often also other art objects such as paintings and sculptures for their premises. The common forms of public art procurement also apply to churches. Purchases can be made, for example, through an art competition or sketch competition, as well as through a portfolio search or direct order.

We recommend that churches also use an art expert in the procurement process and as part of the selection group to ensure the artistic quality and suitability of the artworks for the specific premises. Art purchases should ideally be included in the project plan cost estimate, making it easy to integrate art into renovation or new construction projects. At the same time, the church must be aware of the different VAT rates applicable to different church textiles and other art objects, as well as the conditions under which some church textiles and other art can be subject to a reduced VAT rate of 10%.

Combining Art and Con­struc­tion

Art and design are at their best when used as a long-term part of planning. Creative design should be incorporated as a force for change, even when a factory area is converted into a residential area, the living environment is renovated, or the city is developed for people. An art program has also become a popular way to develop areas as part of urban planning.