Friday, September 20, 2013

One Percent for Art: Arrivals and Departures

by Drew Martin
One percent for art sounds like an elitist club but it is quite the opposite. It means certain governments mandate that public facility projects need to spend at least one percent of the construction budget on public art. One percent sounds like pocket change but for every billion dollars of a public project, $10 million is spent on the art.

Most European countries have this policy, as well as South Africa, Australia, Canada, Senegal, and many cities and states in America. New York City's policy has some wiggle room; no less than 1% of the first $20 million, and no less than 0.5% for anything over $20 million.

The Wall Street Journal ran an article in yesterday's Personal Journal, titled Airports for Art Lovers, which shows off this kind of work and claims,

If you want to see some of the best contemporary art in the U.S. these days, buy an airline ticket.

The online version of the article was posted a day prior, and includes a WSJ Live video, which discusses this (to paraphrase) post 9-11, stress-leaving, renaissance, airport experience.

It is remarkable that while many other cultures actually approach art from an aesthetics and cultural perspective, or at least with some expectation of personal transformation, Americans are fine to leave it as an educational benefit, hence the 501c3 not for profit status of our museums. The commentators from the WSJ video however downgraded that a bit, and kept talking about how this airport art is there to entertain us and help us pass the time.

Click here to watch the WSJ Live clip and view the airport art gallery.