Image metatext: The artwork consists of two video installations of abstract colours projected onto the opposite walls in the lift lobby in the Finnish National Agency for Education’s premises.
Pekka Sassi: Kolmas Väri, 2021. Image: Pekka Sassi

There are many ways to commission and fund public art, with versatile funding and commissioning models to suit a variety of parties: municipalities and other public sector organisations as well as private developers. If established good practices are followed, art can be acquired for very different sites and purposes.

The Percent for Art principle

The most common way to apply the Percent for Art principle in Finland is through a decision by a municipality to commit to it. This means that the municipality decides to allocate about one per cent of the construction project costs to art. Municipalities can follow the principle in all construction projects or on a case-by-case basis on bigger sites, such as schools and healthcare centres. 

  • a municipal decision to follow the Percent for Art principle in public construction and renovation projects
  • the municipality decides to allocate about one per cent of the building costs to art
  • the municipality can follow the principle in all or some of its construction projects

The principle can also be adopted by non-municipal organisations. Institutions such as Aalto University and Turku University of Applied Sciences are committed to it.

The Arts Promotion Centre Finland advises and supports new Percent for Art projects with grants.

Obligation to commission art

Municipalities and cities have various ways to oblige private sector developers to commit to the Percent for Art principle and to funding art purchases.

Obligation to commission art for new plot holders:

  • a model for funding and commissioning art in which the decision to follow the Percent for Art principle is made by the municipality or city and carried out by the developer
  • the developer is obligated to follow the principle
  • not as extensive as the binding art programme but still mandatory

Fund model

In the fund model, a certain share of the building costs is collected from the developers into a common fund and spent on art purchases.

  • the share can be, for example, a certain amount of euros per square metre of permitted building volume
  • local developers take part in art projects by contributing to the common fund
  • the Percent for Art principle can be extended to include cultural events, as these can also be financed by the fund

Principles of public art

Principles of public art form a plan that determines the ways in which art is funded, executed and maintained in a municipality or city. The plan can include various art acquisition models that are applied in different ways depending on the project.

The plan defines the aims of one or more art projects, art acquisition models, methods and those responsible for maintaining the works of art, funding models and other financial matters. The principles of public art also include a plan on how the work between commissioners, developers, architects, specialist designers, artists and users will be coordinated. A multidisciplinary art committee is often in charge of the implementation, and the project is coordinated by an art museum, art coordinator or other public art specialist.

  • define the cross-departmental processes by which art is executed and maintained
  • may be a proposal for the development of public art or binding principles

Arts programme

An arts programme is a general plan for the use of art in a site or specific area, such as an urban district. An arts programme sets the aims for the execution of art and for the acquisition and funding methods. It can be normative or binding.

Normative arts programme

  • An urban plan can be accompanied by a normative art plan that is not binding for later planning and building.

Binding arts programme

  • An arts programme is binding if the instructions included in the programme form part of the terms of receiving a plot or the application of the programme plan is agreed upon in some other way by the municipality and developers of the area.