Public Art Ordinance

The Seattle Municipal Code primarily contains the same sections and wording as the original ordinance, and is more often referenced for the program's operation than the original ordinance.


20.32.010 Purpose
20.32.020 Definitions
20.32.030 Funds for works of art
20.32.040 Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs Authority
20.32.050 Municipal Arts Fund

SMC 20.32.010 Purpose

The City accepts a responsibility for expanding public experience with visual art. Such art has enabled people in all societies better to understand their communities and individual lives. Artists capable of creating art for public places must be encouraged and Seattle's standing as a regional leader in public art enhanced. A policy is therefore established to direct the inclusion of works of art in public works of the City.

(Ord. 102210 Section 1, 1973.)

SMC 20.32.020 Definitions

  1. "Office" means the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.
  2. "Commission" means the Seattle Arts Commission.
  3. "Construction project" means any capital project paid for wholly or in part by the City to construct or remodel any building, structure, park, utility, street, sidewalk, or parking facility, or any portion thereof, within the limits of The City of Seattle.
  4. "Eligible fund" means a source fund for construction projects from which art is not precluded as an object of expenditure.
  5. "Municipal Arts Plan" means the plan required by Section 20.32.040 A.
  6. "Administrative costs" means all costs incurred in connection with the selection, acquisition, installation and exhibition of, and publicity about, City-owned works of art.

(Ord. 121006 Section 11, 2002: Ord. 117403 Section 1, 1994: Ord. 105389 Section 1, 1976: Ord. 102210 Section 2, 1973.)

SMC 20.32.030 Funds for works of art

All requests for appropriations for construction projects from eligible funds shall include an amount equal to one (1) percent of the estimated cost of such project for works of art and shall be accompanied by a request from the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs for authorization to expend such funds after the same have been deposited in the Municipal Arts Fund. When the City Council approves any such request, including the one (1) percent for works of art, the appropriation for such construction project shall be made and the same shall include an appropriation of funds for works of art, at the rate of one (1) percent of project cost to be deposited into the appropriate account of the Municipal Arts Fund. Money collected in the Municipal Arts Fund shall be expended by the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs for projects as prescribed by the Municipal Arts Plan, and any unexpended funds shall be carried over automatically for a period of three (3) years, and upon request of the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, carried over for an additional two (2) years. Any funds carried over for three (3) years, or upon special request for five (5) years, and still unexpended at the expiration of such period shall be transferred to the General Fund for general art purposes only; provided, that funds derived from revenue or general obligation bond issues or from utility revenues or other special purpose or dedicated funds shall revert to the funds from which appropriated at the expiration of said three (3) or five (5) year period.

(Ord. 121006 Section 12, 2002: Ord. 105389 Section 2, 1976: Ord. 102210 Section 3, 1973.)

SMC 20.32.040 Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs - Authority

To carry out its responsibilities under this chapter, the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs shall:

  1. Prepare, adopt and amend with the Mayor's approval a plan and guidelines to carry out the City's art program, which shall include, but not be limited to a method or methods for the selection of artists or works of art and for placement of works of art;
  2. Authorize purchase of works of art or commission the design, execution and/or placement of works of art and provide payment therefor from the Municipal Arts Fund. The Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs shall advise the department responsible for a particular construction project of the Office's decision, in consultation with the Seattle Arts Commission, regarding the design, execution and/or placement of a work of art, funds for which were provided by the appropriation for such construction project;
  3. Require that any proposed work of art requiring extraordinary operation or maintenance expenses shall receive prior approval of the department head responsible for such operation or maintenance;
  4. Promulgate rules and regulations consistent with this chapter to facilitate the implementation of its responsibilities under this chapter.

(Ord. 121006 Section 13, 2002: Ord. 105389 Section 3, 1976: Ord. 102210 Section 4, 1973.)

SMC 20.32.050 Municipal Arts Fund

There is established in the City Treasury a special fund designated "Municipal Arts Fund" into which shall be deposited funds appropriated as contemplated by Section 20.32.030, together with such other funds as the City Council shall appropriate for works of art, and from which expenditures may be made for the acquisition and exhibition of works of art consistent with the plan specified in Section 20.32.040A, and for Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs staff costs and administrative costs (as defined in SMC Section 20.32.020 F) that are associated with developing and implementing the Municipal Arts Plan, but not the cost of maintaining City-owned art work, which maintenance cost may be paid from the Cumulative Reserve Subfund or such other source(s) as may be specified by ordinance. Separate accounts shall be established within the Municipal Arts Fund to segregate receipts by source or, when so directed by the City Council, for specific works of art. Disbursements from such fund shall be made in connection with projects approved by the Seattle Arts Commission on vouchers approved by the Director of the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

(Ord. 121006 Section 14, 2002: Ord. 117403 Section 2, 1994: Ord. 116368 Section 242, 1992: Ord. 105389 Section 4, 1976: Ord. 102210 Section 5, 1973.)