40th Anniversary of Public Art

Celebrating 40 Years of Public Art

If you have ever traveled through the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, taken a cruise from Port Everglades or made a visit to the Broward County Main Library, chances are you have experienced public art and not even realized it. Public art is about creating memorable moments for our residents and making a lasting impact in the community---even if they don’t recognize something as “public art.”

When the Public Art & Design Program started in 1976, the initiative began with purchasing framed works of art and hanging them in public buildings around Broward County. Though these efforts were small, they were the foundation of great things to come. Forty years later, the Public Art & Design Program has grown to become a prestigious and internationally-recognized venture that is not only attracting new visitors to the greater Fort Lauderdale area, but also is acting as a bridge among local communities. The program has been featured in “Designing the World’s Best Public Art,” an Australian publication, and has received outstanding recognition from Americans for the Arts--the national organization that advocates for all Americans to have access to the transformative power of the arts.

The original ordinance allowed for up to a dollar per square foot of new construction to be spent on public art. However in 1995, the ordinance was changed and two percent of every capital project could be set aside for public art. The amount could be spent individually on each project, or it could be pooled together and used for larger projects.

The 264 pieces of art in the current collection range from paintings and photography to lighting installations, sound art, mosaics, sculptures and mixed media. The artwork is unique in that it reflects the place where we all live, work and play. Every project is a part of making Broward County a better, more beautiful place to live.

Over the course of 40 years, the Public Art & Design Program has evolved from placing paintings in public spaces to integrated art installations that are part of the architectural design, and more recently art projects that focus on community engagement. With many more years ahead, and a strong vision, county leaders look forward to seeing how public art will continue to impact this area in the future as it has done for decades.

Excerpt from "Making an Impact" - Cultural Quarterly Spring 2016 issue by Michelle de Carion