City of Providence Art in City Life Plan

City of Providence Art in City Life Plan

Client: City of Providence, RI
Date Completed: 2018
Location: Providence, RI

Pictured Above:  Imagine Art Here! Workshop at WaterFire Arts Center, Providence, RI, 2017.

There’s a longstanding do-it-yourself spirit that pervades the city of Providence, Rhode Island, inspiring many artists and cultural organizations to produce public art.  Recently, economic and tourism growth has led to heightened interest in public art and memorials among developers, philanthropists, individuals and organizations. The City’s Department of Art, Culture +Tourism found itself reacting in an ad-hoc manner to the increasingly frequent requests to site public art on City property or to financially or otherwise support new public art projects.


Seeking clear ways to make decisions about the City’s investments in public art, prioritize limited resources and better support public art overall, the City of Providence commissioned Via Partnership to work with its Department of Art, Culture +Tourism (ACT) and the newly established Art in City Life Commission to develop the City’s first public art master plan.


Via created a plan for Providence that gives the City the tools it needs to build a municipal public art program that uses resources strategically and proactively commissions public art reflective of the spirit and energy of Providence.  The plan also provides long-needed administrative tools and policy recommendations to guide the way the City assists others commissioning public art and how it commissions art on public property with public funds. The plan includes criteria ACT can use to identify the best opportunities for the City to invest in public art, a variety of funding strategies, artist selection processes, staffing recommendations, and procedures for accepting donations and loans of artworks for City property.


The plan recommends that the program’s commissioning of artwork be targeted toward four specific types of projects – Landmark Public Artworks, Public Art Residencies, Civic Infrastructure Projects and Temporary Projects.  Together, these projects will serve the breadth of Providence’s communities, create new opportunities for artists and support the growth of public art practice in Providence, adding robustness and strength to Providence’s already rich arts ecosystem.