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City of Providence - Management of Percent for Public Art Program

Rhode Island’s capital established a $1.3 million fund for public art projects and needed an effective, equitable, and impactful manager. That’s why, in 2021, and again in 2023, the City of Providence chose to work with Golob Art to manage their first-ever Percent for Art program.

Providence, RI Percent for Art Program Overview

Since 2021, Golob Art has been the primary consultant managing every aspect of the City of Providence’s $1.3 million budget, first-ever Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Percent for Art program. This program has included three major projects: the Landmark Public Art Project, the Sidewalk Tattoo Project, and the Elmwood Community Center Facade Project.

After selecting Golob Art in 2021, the City and Golob Art renewed their collaboration in 2023 when the City again selected Golob Art to manage the CIP Percent for Art program.

Landmark Public Art Project

Centered in the I-195 Redevelopment District, this $850,000 project was tasked with creating an iconic and contextual public artwork in the heart of Providence. Golob Art, in partnership with the City of Providence, oversaw the selection of the artist, the negotiation of the artist agreement, and the execution of the artwork. 

At every step of the process, equity, contextuality, and impact were at the core of the process. These values were reflected in both the content of the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) as well as the actual selection process. The RFQ prioritized artists with a track-record of contextual, iconic artwork with an interest in engaging a project on a site with a complicated and layered history. Meanwhile, a panel of arts experts, community leaders, and site-stakeholders was assembled to review responses. Over two hundred artists from across the globe responded to the Request for Qualifications and five semi-finalists were invited to prepare full proposals. As part of the commitment to supporting artist professional development, rejected artists were offered feedback sessions.

 The selected artists were brought to Providence for a mini-conference where they were connected with community organizations and stakeholders, offered a site-visit, and introduced to City and research resources. Even in competition, this process was committed to building collaborative processes. To encourage a strong proposal, the artists were supported with weekly check-ins with Golob Art and technical consultant, Rika Smith, to review technical and process components. 

To make a decision of the five proposals, a community engagement process was put underway, and the Selection Panel was given an opportunity to ask questions of the semi-finalist Artists. After selection of the Finalist artists, an in-depth negotiation process began and a comprehensive agreement was developed between the selected artist and the City. Currently, Golob Art is working with the City to oversee this iconic Landmark Public Artwork’s execution.

Sidewalk Tattoos Project

How does a city incorporate art into everyday life and the built environment? Sidewalk art. Permanent, stamped concrete with locally created poetry and artworks sprinkled across every neighborhood in the city. Sidewalk Tattoos is a program to bring accessible poetry and art to every neighborhood of the City, by stamping 30 local poems and art designs into concrete sidewalks as they are being poured. 

Although this concrete pressing technique was developed for the sidewalk poetry in St.Paul, Minnesota, by artist Marcus Young, this program is the first in the country to incorporate non-sans-serif fonts and art designs into the stamping. Golob Art, working with fabrication company, Fourth Dimension Signs, developed a first-in-the-nation process for creating beautiful, implementable, ADA-compliant sidewalk art.

Elmwood Community Center Facade Project

With a community center renovation underway, the City of Providence and the Department of Public Properties were seeking ways to infuse art into this major public project. Golob Art, as part of the Capital Improvement Project Percent for Art program, oversaw, from start to finish, the procurement and creation of a large facade artwork across the building. 

The procurement process chosen was a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). This involved assembling a selection panel that included community heroes, project stakeholders, and arts experts. The call was open to artists of all backgrounds and mediums to allow for murals alongside other forms of creative expression, including light installations and metal art. Three artists were selected to prepare a proposal, and artist, AGONZA, was selected to create a stunning community-informed mural across the property. 

After the artwork and artist were selected, Golob Art oversaw contract negotiations with the artist, and then coordinated between the artist and site stakeholders to provide a smooth art creation experience. 


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