LA County is the largest municipal jurisdiction in the United States serving a population of over ten million people. The County covers more than 4,000 square miles ranging from mountains to beaches and encompasses 88 cities and 137 unincorporated areas. In response to a complex governing structure, large geographic area, diverse populations served, and the changing nature of the public art field, the Civic Art Division is continuously developing new approaches to public engagement, project scoping, management and collections care. For year in review Division highlights, please view our FY 2018-2019 Civic Art Annual Report.
The Civic Art Division was launched in December 2004, when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted the County’s first Civic Art Policy, which allocates one percent of design and construction costs of County capital projects to a Civic Art Special Fund for the development of original, site-specific artworks. These artworks are integrated into libraries, fire stations, health clinics, courthouses, and numerous other County facilities.
Key components of the Policy include:
- Goals and objectives of projects
- Implementation procedures
- List of eligible projects
- Allowable expenditures
In addition to adding permanent visual artworks to County facilities, civic art funds can also be used for temporary works of art, workshops, art events, conservation, and education. Capital projects which are exempt from the policy include projects that cost less than $500,000, streets, underground projects, and airport runways. In August 2015, a revision to the Civic Art Policy was adopted by the Board of Supervisors that extended the civic art requirement to include Developer Delivered County Capital Projects (DDCCP). The County determines the delivery method for civic art either through 1.) the Department of Arts and Culture (Arts and Culture) or 2.) the developer retaining a professional art consultant from Arts and Culture's Civic Art Prequalified List of Art Consultants. In July 2020, the Civic Art Policy was revised to reflect ministerial changes made to County titles, including the Department of Arts and Culture from its previous name, The Arts Commission.
Originally part of the Policy, the Civic Art Procedures were made into a separate document in 2008, and recently updated in July 2020, to allow for more flexibility in adapting procedures to current conditions. This document covers:
- Artist selection
- Financial protocols
- Maintenance and conservation of artworks
- Gifts and loans of artworks to the County
- Acquisitions and accessions
- Deaccessioning artworks from the County Collection
As mandated by the LA County Board of Supervisors, the Department must also conduct a survey of the County Civic Art Collection every five years, producing an up-to-date, publicly accessible report on County-owned art. The first edition of the survey completed in 2009 unearthed 68 works that met the accession criteria for the County’s permanent collection. You can download a copy of the results of this process here: 2009 Los Angeles County's Civic Art Collection Report.
In FY 2014-15 a more comprehensive baseline inventory was initiated. Spanning approximately 900 County sites, the inventory includes portable works like paintings and limited edition prints in addition to site-specific sculptures and murals. Survey activities include: gathering data about artworks, conducting provenance research for those artworks of uncertain ownership, and raising awareness for departmental contacts about their art and its maintenance requirements. Field registrars and conservators are updating condition reports on artworks already in the County’s Civic Art Collection as well as photographing, measuring and documenting basic aspects of newly found art that meet the Civic Art accession criteria. As of January 31, 2016, the team has catalogued an astounding 939 pieces, 776 of which are likely to be found eligible for formal accession to the County Civic Art Collection.
For more information about Civic Art, please contact CivicArt@arts.lacounty.gov.