The Percent for Art principle

14 July 2017
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The Percent for Art principlePercent for Art Principle facing tailwind in Finland.

Public art is enjoying a resurgence in Finland – two new handbooks offer practical information for commissioners and artists.

Finnish people value having art as part of their everyday life. According to a survey conducted by the Percent for Art project, a total of 70% of Finns want to see works of art in everyday contexts such as residential areas, schools, daycare centres and workplaces. Public art is an egalitarian form of art; anyone is free to enjoy a work of art located in a park, for example. Easily accessible public art has strong political backing in present-day Finland.

The Percent for Art principle, i.e. the principle that part of the funds budgeted for a construction project are allocated to art, has experienced a resurgence in Finland in the last decade. New models for commissioning public art have also emerged.

To maintain and develop the public art tradition, the Handbook of the Percent for Art Principle in Finland has been published to offer practical information for both commissioners and artists interested in art.

The Handbook for Commissioners is a practical handbook for all developers, such as municipal decision-makers, planners, architects and construction companies interested in art. The handbook explains the most common art funding and commissioning models in Finland. All the different models draw from the same idea: the aim is to create better built environments through high-quality architecture, design and art.

The Handbook of the Percent for Art Principle for Artists discusses public art processes from the point of view of an artist. The handbook takes the reader through the entire process of producing a public work of art, from signing a contract to working during the construction project and drawing up a maintenance plan.

The Percent for Art principle
The Percent for Art principle refers to the practice of spending a certain portion of a construction project’s budget on art. There are several funding models for implementing the principle. According to the traditional definition, around one percent of the construction budget is spent on art.

The principle can also manifest itself as a planning or funding decision, or it may be imposed as a condition for a conveyance. The Percent principle can also be applied by private developers. It is suitable for new constructions, renovations, infill development and building infrastructure.

The Percent for Art is a project funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and its partners are the following visual arts organisations: the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo, the Artists’ Association of Finland, the Architecture Information Centre Finland and the Foundation for Environmental Art.

Download the handbooks:

Photo: Tomas Byström’s work Olet tässä (“You are here”, 2013) has been integrated into the exterior wall elements of Vuores House in Tampere, Finland. Photo Aino Huovio © Kuvasto 2015.

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