What is Public Art?
At its most basic, public art is original works of art in public places. Public places are easily accessible and clearly visible to anyone, either outdoors or in government building common spaces. The artworks may exist briefly or for long periods of time. ADA compliance and public safety is inherently part of the design process.
What is NOT Public Art?
Signs are not public art. Signs advertise a business, using business names, slogans, logos, and/or visual representations of the goods for sale by that business. Signs are regulated by the City under separate ordinances and do not go through the public art approval process.
When Does the City Regulate Public Art?
Consider two things: the site and the source of the funds to make the art. The City is involved in the process:
- If taxpayer money is involved in creating the artwork
- If the site where the artwork will go is within the public right-of-way, whether it be local, state, or federal (Right-of-way: the stretch of government-owned land between two private property lines, which typically includes streets and sidewalks.)
- If the artwork is proposed to go on government owned property (again – local, state, or federal such as parks, government buildings, interchanges, medians, etc…)
- If the artwork is to be placed in a Historic District (Downtown, Olde Town, and Summerville)
- If the installation of the artwork will require use and/or blockage of the public right-of-way
When Does the City NOT Regulate Public Art?
No City review or permits are needed when all of these are true:
- If no taxpayer money is involved in creating the artwork, and
- If the project is on display for the public to view on private property, and
- If it does not need the right-of-way to install, and
- If that private property is not in Downtown, Olde Town, or Summerville,
If the artwork is located on private property, the property owner has the authority to commission what s/he wishes. Federal obscenity, defamation, and copyright laws, and all traffic safety, and public utility safety rules would still need to be followed, if the work is visible by the public.
Is there a guide?
The Greater Augusta Arts Council has worked with City of Augusta Departments to create an easy to follow checklist for public art that needs City review or permits. The checklist is just a guide. It is not a form to fill it out. We always welcome feedback, and if anything is unclear, let us know, so we can work with the City to make this process as easy as possible.
The goal is more public art.
Why? Because the more original works of art in public spaces, the more our city’s creative culture is enhanced, supported, and known, and the more we all will be drawn to enjoy Augusta’s public sphere.