How to apply for public art & design projects
Review the Boston Art Commission's Criteria for Excellence as you consider your idea and site. The Boston Art Commission promotes innovative and transformative artworks that:
- Engage the community,
- Enrich/ enliven the urban environment,
- Are driven by a clear artistic vision,
- Enhance the diversity of the existing collection,
- Respond directly to their specific environment, and
- possess durability appropriate to the lifespan of the work.
Before you get started
You can propose a project as an individual or group. Click here to view our infographic to help you develop your application. Once you’ve considered the idea or space in which you are interested in siting your project, you can begin the process of talking to neighbors and community members that would be impacted. As you develop your idea, consider reaching out to:
- the Boston Art Commission at BAC@Boston.gov,
- art foundations,
- local businesses,
- nonprofits, and
- anyone with a stake in the project.
Also, keep in mind, we can only approve projects that will be installed on land owned by the City of Boston. You can research parcel ownership here.
Submit an application
We want to have a clear understanding of what you want to propose. Please fill out the online application at apply.publicartboston.com to propose both short and long-term public art and design projects on City of Boston property. All applications will be reviewed by the Boston Art Commission at our monthly meeting, scheduled for the second Tuesday of the month. We generally ask that applications be submitted two weeks before a scheduled BAC meeting and six weeks before the proposed start date, to allow us time to process the request and work with other departments for permissions.
You'll need to include:
- a project description with installation/maintenance details;
- an address or google map link, if you have a specific site in mind;
- photos or sketches of the proposed project, if relevant;
- description of the artist selection process
- resumes for all artists involved, and
- any letters of support or permission.
If you have any questions about the application or the process email us at BAC@Boston.gov .
TIP: When writing your project description, look at the Boston Art Commissions' Criteria of Excellence.
The “art” work begins
If this is a permanent public art project we will reach out and help you write a Request for Qualifications, and continue with the City's permanent art process.
If this is a temporary project we’ll follow up with you if we have any additional questions. We’ll also let you know about any City permissions that apply to your project, including:
- a special event permit,
- a public safety permit, and
- insurance requirements.
Public Art Funding Sources
Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund
In 1892, Edward Ingersoll Browne, a successful Boston trust attorney with a strong sense of civic pride and public spirit, wrote his will directing that one-third of his estate be set aside, in a special fund, for the improvement of Boston's public spaces. Grants from Mr. Browne's bequest are often utilized for the design, fabrication and installation of permanent works of public art in Boston. The Art Commission has representation on this board and assists in determining that all proposals submitted comply with the terms of Mr. Browne's will. Please send applications to the City of Boston Trust Office, City Hall, Room M5, Boston, MA 02201. The deadline for all applications to the Browne Fund is March 15.
Please read the Boston Art Commission's Guidelines for Permanent Public Art in Boston before submitting your application. The Browne Fund application can be found here. A helpful checklist of submission materials can be found here.
For more information, please call the City of Boston Treasury Division at 617.635.3414.
Fund for the Arts
Fund for the Arts (FFA) is a public art program at the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA). The Fund supports projects through which artists and non-profit community organizations are paired to create public artworks that engage audiences and encourage participation in the arts. Fund for the Arts seeks to advance and provide visibility for the arts in Greater Boston by placing artists and creative endeavors at the heart of community and civic life.
Visit www.nefa.org/grants_services/fund_arts for more information.
Creative City Grants
Creative City is a public art program at the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA). Creative City grants enable artists to create projects of all disciplines that take place in the public realm in the city of Boston and that integrate public participation into an artistic process and/or presentation.
Visit www.nefa.org/grants_programs/programs/creative-city for more information.
Grants are made by the George B. Henderson Foundation in accordance with the Indenture of Trust by Mr. Henderson dated 21 May 1964. This instrument directs that Foundation funds shall be devoted solely to the enhancement of the physical appearance of the City of Boston, including projects concerning parks, city streets, buildings, monuments, and architectural and sculptural works. Each project shall be visible by the public, preferably from a public way. If funds are expended for work on building interiors, the building shall be open to the public a reasonable number of days in each year. Visit thehendersonfoundation.com for more information.