The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs is looking for a few good artists to create large-scale, temporary murals on some of the city’s protective construction structures. The agency recently issued a call for applications for its City Canvas pilot program, which will transform some construction fences and sidewalk sheds into canvases for local artists.
“New York City is one of the most vibrant built environments in the world, and City Canvas is a great opportunity to let some of the artists working in our neighborhoods help to enliven and enhance our public spaces,” said Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl.
New York City Construction Fences to Feature Murals
Until now, New York City has prohibited posting any materials on the more than 300 miles of construction fences and sidewalk sheds used in building construction throughout the five boroughs. The City Canvas pilot program will permit selected cultural organizations to install visual art on these structures for the first time.
Public Art with a Purpose
The City’s pilot program has two main objectives:
- Improve the pedestrian experience for both residents and visitors
- Increase opportunities for artists and cultural organizations
In the process, it may also brighten the workday of more than a few New York contractors.
City Plans to Beautify ‘Unattractive’ Protective Structures
“Sidewalk sheds are unattractive, but they keep us safe. We’re proud to work with our partner agencies on this innovative program. If anyone can bring some love to the sidewalk sheds New Yorkers love to hate, it’s our city’s artists,” said NYC Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE.
In September, the Department of Cultural Affairs issued a request for proposals from one or more qualified nonprofits to install artwork on at least one city location during a 24-month pilot period. A panel convened by the agency will review proposed artworks prior to installation.
The nonprofit that is selected will be given some latitude to create a memorable mural on a construction fence or sidewalk shed. They will be required to find and secure prospective installation sites and choose artists and artwork that relate to the communities within and around the sites.
Murals to be Funded by Artists, not Taxpayers
However, the project will not cost taxpayers a penny. Funding will not come from New York City, the Department of Cultural Affairs or the Department of Buildings. Instead, the selected organization will be responsible to develop their own budget and secure funding for all costs associated with the installation, maintenance and de-installation of the artwork.
“Public art, created by local artists and presented without barriers for all to enjoy and experience, strengthens the sense of community in our neighborhoods and lifts the spirit of our city,” said City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.
The City Canvas pilot program will benefit city contractors, too. The new murals will bring artwork right to the job site, providing construction laborers with a welcome distraction on long workdays.