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Public Art Policies

Policies and Processes for Public Art

The vitality of a city can be measured by its public arts, which may add enormous value to the cultural and economic well-being of the City.  Public arts may be educational, inspirational, thought-provoking, or merely decorative, to enhance a welcoming public space while activating and transforming public spaces for the benefit of all who experience them.


When established by Mayor Rob Rolison in 2017 one of the City of Poughkeepsie Public Arts Commission objectives was to act in an advisory role to “develop and update, as needed, an arts master plan, policies, resources lists, and other program elements for the City.”  In support of the Mayor’s directive we believe there are areas within our City Government for which practical guidelines and policies are needed:


  • to promote the creation of public art,

  • to assist artists, arts organizations, and members of the public desiring to publicly display their art, and

  • to protect public property, the public at large, and the rights of artists.


Poughkeepsie’s public arts can create a sense of belonging and inclusiveness—reflecting historic events, cultural diversity, the City’s evolution over time, or the future we envision.  We, as a City, need to ensure preservation of what we have and move forward to nurture more public art that is inclusive of all aspects of our City.

What is Public Art?

We embrace a broad and inclusive definition of public arts, encompassing an array of artistic forms. When traveling through our City, public arts involve a wide range of creative works you see and hear, and in some cases what you might feel within the environment. The definition of public arts may normally include art forms located only on City property—such as publicly accessible sculptures, murals, temporary art installations, musical and dance performances at festivals, or theatrical events. We also include art on private property as it could be designated so when clearly observable to the public and, especially, if it contributes to the overall artistic ambiance of the City.

What are Public Art Policies?

Public Art Policies provide clear and concise processes by which the City can create, accept, manage, and guide art in the public domain, allowing public art to be a vehicle for... our residents and ...  goals of our City. To accomplish this we anticipate establishment of a series of individual policies over time, likely to be many years.  Each policy will target a specific domain of public art management, defining policy scope, goals, requirements, and the process by which the policy will be managed. The introduction of public art processes will be quite conservative, as the concept of formal, explicit public art policies is relatively new to the City of Poughkeepsie - one step at a time, with revisions and additions as our City continues to grow and evolve.

The City of Poughkeepsie, like many other cities around the country, is a small city in close proximity to a major metropolitan area. In many respects we have large city attitudes and desires, we share many problems seen in large cities, however resources readily available within large cities are not available. What does this have to do with Public Art Policies?  Many cities have created an array of policies covering a broad range of public art situations.  Some of these policies come at a high price, and some of them cover situations not currently prevalent in the City of Poughkeepsie.  Thus, our approach is to strike balance between introducing policies over time covering situations that are either likely to occur or that we would like to occur, while avoid fret and expense of dealing with unlikely situations.

[Proposed] Temporary Art Installation on Public Property


Given our strong community of artists, arts organizations, art enthusiasts, and community activists ideas frequently arise for enhancing our City with temporary installations of various art forms on public property. While public artistic displays can have a positive impact, such installations require careful consideration to protect public property, the public at large, and the rights of artists.

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