Per Cent for Art Scheme

Per Cent for Art Scheme

In 1997, as a practical means of funding visual arts in Ireland, the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism instituted the Per Cent for Art Scheme. Under this scheme, the budgets for all capital construction projects were to include a sum to pay for an Irish visual art project, subject to certain limits and conditions.

For example:

  • Construction projects up to €2,550,000 may include a maximum art budget of €25,500.
  • Those costing €2,550,000-6,300,000, a further percentage point (up to €12,500) to a maximum art budget of €38,000.
  • Those costing between €6,300,000 and €12,700,000, a further percentage point (up to €13,000) to a maximum art budget of €51,000.
  • Those costing more than €12,700,000, a final percentage point (up to €13,000) to a maximum art budget of €64,000.

The specific Guidelines for the Implementation of the Per Cent for Art Scheme were officially unveiled by Mr. John O'Donoghue, T.D., the Minister for Arts, in The National Gallery of Ireland, in December, 2004.

This levy on building construction recognizes the important contribution made by public art, particularly visual arts like Irish painting and sculpture, to the quality of our immediate environment, and furnishes valuable additional funds to support both individual Irish artists and an increased public awareness of art. Sadly, the recent slump in the number of building projects, has significantly reduced the amount of money available to support the arts.

Generally speaking works for public art schemes are commissioned by either (a) Open Competition - all visual artists are invited to submit a basic proposal. Candidates who are short listed usually receive a fee to submit a more detailed proposal; (b) Limited Competition - where an Arts Working Group draw up a list of potential suitable artists; (c) Direct invitation or purchase.

County Councils and Per Cent for Art Scheme

County Council's around the country have embraced the possibilities of the Per Cent for Art Scheme. In the past decade alone for example, the Wexford County Council alone has undertaken thirty-four commissions. They have expanded the scope of the initial scheme, shifting in emphasis from permanent outdoor sculpture to time based installations and other explorative art forms. Artist Mick Fortune was commissioned to make a digital video of Rosslare Harbour and local people's lives. Local dance and groups were commissioned to put together new performances and composer Ian Wilson was charged with writing a 50 minute choral and orchestral work. Laois County Council has commissioned some major public art projects under the Percent for Art Scheme: A sculpture of James Fintan Lalor was recently erected at Áras an Chontae Portlaoise. Artists Robert Mc Colgan and Irene Benner created a stainless steel ring over the Portlaoise By-Pass, symbolising a gateway to the Midlands. Mayo county council have traditionally taken a more site-specific traditional view to their commissions, primarily focusing on sculptural work (e.g. Witness Tree, Daphne Wright, Castlebar Courthouse). However recently they have expanded their range of commissions to include videos and performance art.

For more information on the Per Cent for Arts Scheme, please contact:

Arts Unit,
Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism,
Telephone: (+353) 064-27334

Overseas Per Cent For Art Schemes

Similiar percent for art programs operate in most European countries and Australia, as well as many cities and states in North America, although terms and conditions vary. The Quebec authorities stipulate that the budget for all new publicly funded buildings reserve one percent for artwork. New York's civic legislation requires that, in respect of any public building owned by the city, one per cent of the first twenty million dollars building costs, plus a further half of one percent of the rest (up to a maximum sum of $400,000) be devoted to the purchase of fine art. The city of Toronto operates a similar policy but with no upper limit. British percent for art policy is more discretionary and negotiable, in practice rarely reaching the 1 percent mark.

• For facts about the art industry in Ireland, see: Homepage.
• For a personal view of the top 20 contemporary fine art painters in Ireland, see: Best Irish Artists.
• For the evolution of sculpture and painting in the 32 counties, see: History of Irish Art.
• For details of museums and contemporary arts venues, see: Irish Art Galleries.

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