Urban Art Program brings local art to NYC streets

I was initially going to write about BroLab today, but decided to wait until after their newest public art installment is officially unveiled on the 26th. In the interim, it seemed like a good time to discuss the Urban Art Program that the New York City Department of Transportation facilitates, because quite a few artists that I admire in the community are finding venues for their art through this program.

The DOT emphasizes a commitment to making NYC the “greatest, greenest big city in the world,” and to using streets to improve the quality of life within the city. According their website, art is integral to DOT’s goal of world-class streets. To this end, the Urban Art Program invites artists and organizations to cooperate with the city to put art on the streets by applying for one of three involvement opportunities:

pARTners: The pARTners program invites artists and community organizations to collaborate in producing site-responsive artworks, either for pre-selected Priority sites, or alternative project sites proposed by applicants. Non-profits can receive up to $5,000 toward direct project costs, and these organizations are then responsible for subsequent maintenance and repairs.

Barrier Beautification: DOT partners with New York Cares in commissioning artists to create murals on concrete barriers separating bicycle lanes from traffic. Individual artists are invited to apply each spring with proposals, and New York Cares volunteers help artists paint their designs onto the barriers. Designs stay on barriers for 11 months, and artists may receive up to $2,500 toward direct project costs.

Arterventions: DOT-owned and maintained sites are offered for temporary art installments that last for up to 6 months. Artist-organization teams are invited to propose projects year-round, and are then responsible for maintenance and repair. Projects lasting at least 3 months are eligible to receive up to $1,000 toward installation and removal costs.

Keep in mind that individual artists may apply for Barrier Beautification, but pARTners and Arterventions project applications require artist-organization teams. Artists are allowed to accept only one commission per fiscal year. DOT entrusts the selection process to an Art Advisory Committee.

2012-2013 Urban Art Advisory Committee

Rocio Aranda-Alvarado Curator, Museo del Barrio
Michele Bogart Professor of Art History, Stony Brook University
Charlotte Cohen Regional Fine Arts Manager, General Services Administration, PBS
Tamara Greenfield Executive Director, Fourth Arts Block
Heng-Gil Han Curator Visual Arts, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning
Sara Reisman Director, Percent for Art Program, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

Selection Criteria: artistic merit, site suitability, public safety, artwork durability, organizational capacity

Gabriela Salazar’s For Closure, mentioned in this blog’s previous post, is one such Artervention installment. If you’re an artist or live in a neighborhood that could benefit from more public artworks, these are entirely attainable opportunities to promote and share art within your local community. Go for it.


“Container Series by Victoria Munro. Presented with Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island. Grand Staircase, St. George Ferry Terminal, Staten Island. Summer 2011-Summer 2012.” – Image and Caption Credit: NYC DOT


About Alex Holt

I am a local artist from Brooklyn, NY. I love art, design, books, photography, gardening and blogging.
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