Public Art for Neighborhoods Ordinance

October 2018

Public Art for Neighborhoods - Frequently Asked Questions

City-County Council Proposal 16-001, as amended, passed the City-County Council’s Community Affairs and Education Committee on April 27, 2016 by a vote of 6-1 and passed the full City-County Council on May 9 by a 17-7 vote.  It was signed by Mayor Hogsett on May 12, 2016. The program is actively in development.

Q:  Why is this program needed?

A:   Strengthening Indianapolis means strengthening our neighborhoods, and arts in neighborhoods are a vital component of the city’s overall neighborhood development strategy.  Public art is widely recognized as having benefits for both social and economic development, and for improving the quality of life for neighborhood residents.  Unfortunately, the benefits of public art cannot be realized without a dedicated source of funding to ensure that projects happen.

Q:  Where will the funding come from?

A:  There are no new or increased taxes on citizens to make this program happen. The funds will come from private developers who are doing projects in designated areas of the city—called TIF districts—and who have been given tax breaks or other economic incentives from the City to encourage their investment in that area.  Developers are required to direct 1% of the value of these incentives towards either completing a work of public art as part of their project, or as a cash contribution to the Public Art for Neighborhoods Fund.  As an example, if a project in a TIF district has been given the equivalent of $2 million in incentives, the project’s developer would either spend $20,000 on public art for their site or would write a check for $20,000 to the Public Art for Neighborhoods Fund.

Q:  How much funding will be available?

A:  The level of funding for neighborhood projects depends on how much the city gives in incentives each year and whether developers decide to do a project themselves or direct the cash equivalent into the Public Art for Neighborhoods Fund.  Some years there could be a lot, other years less.

Q:  Who will distribute this funding to neighborhoods, and how?

A:  Because the City of Indianapolis already distributes funds to arts organizations through the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the proposal calls for the Arts Council to steward the Public Art for Neighborhoods Fund. We anticipate that there will be a new Arts Council grant program, similar to existing grant programs, that will allow neighborhoods to apply for funding for specific projects. The proposal also calls for a broad-based selection and oversight committee to ensure that a key provision of the program—the distribution of at least half the funds to lower-income neighborhoods—will be strictly adhered to.  Also, even though the money comes from development in TIF districts, it doesn’t have to be spent there:  projects can occur anywhere in Marion County, and an equitable distribution of projects is the goal of the Public Art for Neighborhoods program.

Q:  Who can receive funding?

A:  Although the mechanics of the grant process are still being planned, we anticipate that nonprofit neighborhood associations and community development corporations (CDCs) will be eligible to apply for funds.  Other groups—such as artists and arts organizations—may be able to apply with the strong and express support of the neighborhoods that will benefit from their work. 

Q:  What kinds of projects would happen under this program?

A:  Under this program a developer could commission an artist to create artwork as part of the site or integrated into the architecture of the developer’s building(s).  There are strict rules as to what is considered “art,” and the developer would need to consult with the neighborhood as the project is being developed. In addition, pooled funds from developers who choose to contribute cash to the Public Art for Neighborhoods Fund could be used for a wide variety of projects designated as “public art.”  Projects could include permanent artwork, temporary artwork, creative placemaking projects, arts-based festivals, open-air free performances, and one-time or recurring events that have a strong arts and culture component. These could occur anywhere in Marion County.

Q:  When will neighborhoods see benefits from this program?

A:  Now that the proposal has been passed by the City-County Council and signed by Mayor Hogsett, there will be a period of about one year for developer contributions to accumulate in the Public Art for Neighborhoods fund before they can be granted back out for projects. The nature of the funded projects will determine when benefits will be visible.

Public Art for Neighborhoods is an exciting new opportunity to get more art in front of more people. If you have any questions or suggestions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the Arts Council office at (317) 631-3301 to speak to someone directly.

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