We are thrilled to kick off this new decade by expressing our appreciation to all of the public artists, organizations, and practitioners who have helped us build (and who continue to guide) the Public Art Archive™ (PAA) into the resource it has become today. In the past 10 years, PAA has grown from a collection of ideas attempting to fill a resource gap into a continually growing repository and suite of services built to “make public art more public.” While our work happily promotes the diligent and tireless work of our colleagues in the field, more importantly, our work connects members of the public to their cultural assets, activating public art for sustained engagement throughout its presence in the public sphere. We are proud to report that in the last 10 years, we have documented over 14,000 international public artworks and provided free access to explore those works on both our desktop and mobile sites.
As indicators of community sentiment, public art’s presence in public space over extended periods of time provides a necessary lens to explore shifts in the perceptions of history, representation, politics, memory, and community. This feedback is a crucial element to designing meaningful experiences and encourages accountability on behalf of those who make decisions about public space. Because public art is increasingly integrated into urban planning, placemaking, and the development of cultural tourism, the commissioning of public art has prompted a growing network of public and private stakeholders, researchers, students, and public audiences that desire educational resources about the content, depth, and breadth of public art that currently exists.
Just over two years ago, the Public Art Archive helped to organize and direct WESTAF’s 17th cultural policy symposium, “The Future History of Public Art” in partnership with Forecast Public Art and the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture & the Arts . Dialogue surrounding public art’s role in promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) work in both public space and public practice, the implications of integrating technology, and a referendum of arts policy and partnerships set the stage to explore significant strategies and methodologies that could be used to encourage more successful public art in the future. These important conversations, paired with the organic expansion and complexity of the field, have helped to guide the work that we perform daily in addition to our hopes for what we can accomplish in the future.