By Jen Kinney.
San Diego boasts about 500 pieces of public art in its collection but because of the way the city funds those works, they’re unequally distributed across neighborhoods and often difficult for the public to access, reports Voice of San Diego. As part of a series focused on the city’s public art, the publication has mapped San Diego’s entire collection of sculptures, paintings, installations, and other artworks and taken a look at the percent-for-art policy that largely determines where they are located.
While the majority of the city’s artworks are donated, the percent-for-art policy funds the creation of new pieces. That sees a small percentage of the costs of new public and private development going to new public artworks. Developers of private projects have the option of installing new works onsite, or paying a fee into the city’s public art fund. For new public development projects like libraries and water treatment plants, though, pieces paid for by the percent-for-art policy must be located on the premises.
Voice of San Diego reports that both of these mechanisms have contributed to unequal distribution and difficult access. Reporter Kinsee Morlan writes, “Neighborhoods with new public and private projects get the public art that comes with them. Neighborhoods historically overlooked by developers don’t get new projects or art.”
And the requirement that percent-for-art pieces funded by public projects be located on site has resulted in artworks that a typical city resident can’t view without an appointment. At least a dozen of the pieces in the city’s collection are located at water plants or pump stations, where access has been heavily restricted since 9/11. Individuals need to contact the city’s communications department and pass security measures in order to even set up an appointment.