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About the Public Art Program

The City of San José Public Art Program inspires community through artworks and exhibitions. We expand community participation opportunities and impact the economic and visual dynamics of the city. Our priorities are guided by the goals and values of project partners and the community. Through active engagement between artists and project stakeholders, we strive to celebrate the city’s diversity, innovative spirit, historic richness, and envision its present and future. 

The program has facilitated projects that are recognized nationally and internationally for innovative programming. As part of the broader Office of Cultural Affairs goals for a vibrant arts community, the San Jose Public Art Program has been awarded prestigious grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and ArtPlace America for its art and placemaking initiatives. 

The San Jose Public Art Program is part of the City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs, a division of the Office of Economic Development, and it operates in accordance with Title 22 of the San Jose Municipal Code. Funds to support the program are provided by municipal ordinance specifying that 1% of City capital improvement project budgets be set aside for the commission, purchase, and installation of artworks.

The Public Art Committee, a sub-committee of the San José Arts Commission, oversees program activities by reviewing all work plans and approval of artworks on City property. The Public Art Advisory Committee comprised of artists, arts and design professionals and urban planners, assists the Public Art Committee by providing technical advice. 

Since its beginnings in 1984, SJPA has evolved significantly from its initial focus on commissioning major artworks for downtown, to community facilities in neighborhoods throughout the city.

In recent years, we have focused on:

  1. Libraries
  2. Parks
  3. Public safety facilities
  4. City hall
  5. The McEnery Convention Center
  6. Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport
  7. Pedestrian and bicycle pathways
  8. Multiple illuminated projects activating the downtown cityscape

We currently manage over 250 diverse artworks located at 130 sites throughout the city. Maintenance and conservation are important aspects of our work. 

Note: San Jose's Public Art Program does consultative work for outside government agencies and private entities.