Percent for art programme to expand into Los Angeles county’s unincorporated areas



Echo Park Lake with the Downtown Los Angeles Skyline in the distance Photo: Adoramassey via Wikimedia Commons

Funding for public art and arts programming in Los Angeles County will be getting a boost with the Public Art in Private Development (PAPD) ordinance passed on 15 September by the County Board of Supervisors. Often known as “percent for art” programmes, this one levies a 1% fee on commercial, industrial, and residential development projects undertaken by the private sector, excluding affordable housing, in the unincorporated areas of the county. The funds will be used to underwrite not only public art, but also cultural spaces, conservation projects and related services within the project’s area.

“Our lives are enriched when everyone can experience the arts, but many of Los Angeles County’s unincorporated areas face disparities in their access to artistic and cultural resources,” says Hilda L. Solis, the chair of the board of supervisors. “The passage of today’s Public Art in Private Development ordinance will address and dismantle historical inequities in services, investments, and opportunities.” 

Los Angeles County is huge, and its unincorporated areas make up more than 65% of its land mass, or 2,650 square miles, with more that 1 million residents.  In 2004, the County  adopted the Civic Art Policy, calling for 1% of county-funded building projects to be devoted to civic art. Later, that fee could be also be used to fund other artistic and cultural projects and to help support arts professionals.

The new ordinance will take effect on 15 October. Developers have the option of directing that fee to one of four options: newly commissioned artwork, cultural facilities, conservation or artistic and cultural programmes, or payment to a county-administered fund.

The incorporated sections of Los Angeles County have their own percent for art policies.  The City of Los Angeles, for example, calls for 1% of “all construction, improvements, or renovation projects undertaken by the city be set aside for public art projects” while a similar fee must be set aside by private developments.

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