Public Art Policy

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City of Fairfax Commission on the Arts




An overarching goal for the City of Fairfax is to develop a distinctive sense of place, both physically and culturally.  To that end, the City must mix its diverse and attractive physical spaces with rich and varied cultural and educational experiences.  This goal can be achieved in part by promoting a robust public art program.  Through such a program, the City will be able to maintain, foster, and enhance its unique character.  Public art will help attract new residents and businesses.

Public art and architecture can serve as a cultural gateway to the City, enlivening its streetscapes while increasing its local and national identity as a residential, historical, and economic destination. Well-placed works of art help introduce the City to those who visit it and its businesses.  Public art serves as a marker for a particular business, intersection, street, or building.  For Fairfax residents, art adds to their quality of life as they go about their daily routines. 

For businesses looking for a place to locate, public art tells them that the City promotes a high level of sophistication, which attracts the types of individuals with whom it would be profitable to do business. Thus public art stimulates economic growth.  It is a good investment for the City, and has relatively low overhead and staffing costs.

Public art helps carry out the mandate for the City’s Commission on the Arts “to encourage, promote and to provide opportunity for artistic expression within our City.” To this end the City Council in 1992 passed Resolution No. R-92-43, which states that the mission of the Commission on the Arts should be to serve as:         


            1.  “An arts facilitator, creating liaisons with and providing support to arts organizations”

            2.  “An arts steward by fostering the development and enjoyment of the arts in our community”           

  3.  “An arts funds administrator, receiving and allocating City funds and funds from other sources   for purposes of artistic encouragement ”

            4.  “An information clearing house on artistic activity within and  around the City of Fairfax.”


Public art is defined as works of art in all artistic disciplines and media that are visually and physically accessible to the public within the City for the benefit of residents and visitors. 

Public art projects are defined as:

            1.  Projects initiated by the City and its entities,        

            2.  Projects generating out of developments authorized by the City Council through a special land use    approval process.

            3.  Projects initiated by community groups, neighborhood associations, or individuals, which may or may not involve funding from the City.

The Public Art Committee is made up of members of the Commission on the Arts and Community Stakeholders, and reports to that body.


 The mission of the public art program is to enrich the City’s visual landscape with works of art and to support quality artistic opportunities for the residents and visitors to experience and enjoy.


The vision of the public art program is to enhance the identity, livability and economic life of the City as an arts destination for its residents and visitors.


The goal of the public art program is to assist the City in building a collection of public art, which will:

1.  Create a more pleasing living environment for residents and visitors.

2.  Create a more unique image for the City within the metropolitan area.

3.  Reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the City.

4.  Reflect the character of the City from its origins to the present. 

5.  Create an artistic environment that will encourage economic  opportunities within the City.


Public art must be encouraged and financially supported by both the public and private sectors. 

1.  Working with City of Fairfax representatives, the Commission on the Arts and its Public Art Committee will encourage the following groups to contribute works of art at appropriate locations within the City. 

                  a. Businesses and Developers

                  b. Public and Private Groups

                  c. Residential Communities

                  d. Schools

                  e. Non-Profits

                  f. Individuals

2.  The Commission on the Arts will work with the following City boards,  commissions, committees, and departments to fulfill its goals:

  1. Planning & Community Development
    • Planning Commission
    • Board of Architectural Review
    • Board of Zoning Appeals
    • Environmental Sustainability Committee.
  2. Public Works
    • Community Appearance Committee
  3. Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
  4. Historic Fairfax City Inc.
  5. City of Fairfax School Board
  6. Economic Development Authority

3.  The Public Art Committee will coordinate with ongoing City initiatives, such as the Fairfax Boulevard Master Plan, Old Town Redevelopment, etc. to help make public art a component in these plans.

4.   The City should strive to incorporate art into any new municipal building and/or its grounds or a major renovation/expansion of a current municipal building and incorporate funding for this act in the financing of these capital projects.

5.  The City should strive to allocate a percentage of its capital improvement budget to support public art in City spaces, including parks and recreation areas.

6.  The City should encourage a public art component for all public and private development projects.

7.  In addition to direct City funding, other sources for public art funding will be non-City public and private funds, including individuals, businesses, organizations, and grants.

8.  Any non-City capital improvement funding will be placed in the City of Fairfax Commission on the Arts Foundation 501(c) 3 account as a separate line-item public arts fund to support public art projects. 


1. The Commission on the Arts and City staff will develop guidelines to implement the public art policy including the process of public art selection, the implementation of arts projects, and the selection of site              placements within the City.  The City Manager, the City Attorney, and the  Mayor and City Council will approve these guidelines.  Such guidelines will require City Council approval.

2. The Public Art Committee, with additional stakeholders as appropriate, will act as the public art selection committee.  

3.  Public art selection may include open competition, invitational competition or direct purchase.

4.  Potential gifts of art to the City will be considered by the Public Art Committee, and then taken to the Commission on the Arts for final consideration.

5.  Works of art will be selected with consideration for the durability of the artwork, future maintenance concerns, and budget impact on the City.

6.  Working with the City, the Commission on the Arts will help identify suitable sites for public art projects.  The selection of a site for any public art in the City will be subject to appropriate City department and City Council approval in advance of any contract execution to purchase such art works.

7.   The Commission on the Arts will advise the City on art projects to be located on site plans by private businesses, and on site locations initiated  by community associations and other community groups. It will review proposals, suggestions and locations for public art, and make  recommendations to the City.        

8.  The City will own, insure, inspect, and maintain public art on City property. On private property the specifics will be spelled out in a mutually agreed contract between the City and the property owner.

9.  Conservation of public art will incorporate the standards published by the  American Institute for Conservation (AIC) to the fullest extent possible.

10.  The Commission on the Arts will submit a report to the Mayor and City Council outlining the justification for the art, the choice of a site, and the selection process for all public art acquisitions



1.  The Public Art Committee, as an arm of the Commission on the Arts, will document and maintain an inventory of public art within the City.

2.  The Public Art Committee will undertake a public outreach program to advertise and promote public art through activities, email lists, the local media, as well as the City’s website and publications.

3.  City public events should involve a public art component.

4.  The Public Art Committee will work with schools to help them display student art in public places.