Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art program, which requires some developers to use one percent of their construction budget for art. The Fairmount Park Art Association’s (FPAA) director Penny Balkin Bach is interviewed.
50 years of public art in Philly made possible by one simple rule
by Susan Phillips
“Philadelphia has the largest number of public works of art in the country and it’s the first city to require some developers to use one percent of their construction budget for art. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the program. WHYY’s Susan Phillips reports.
If you want to build in Philadelphia, you have to include art. For the last fifty years, the Redevelopment Authority has been requiring builders to set aside one percent of construction costs for fine art. Today, the RDA program has produced about 450 pieces of public art that are spread across the city. One of the most iconic is the Clothespin statue across from City Hall.”
Phillips continues by asking commuters, FPAA director, and others to comment on Claes Oldenburg’s Clothespin. Bach goes on to discuss Philadelphia’s percent for art program:
“Penny Balkin Bach is the director of the Fairmount Park Art Association and the author of Public Art in Philadelphia.
Balkin Bach: ‘Some people have said to me oh well, the Clothespin is there to reflect the dirty laundry hanging outside City Hall if you investigated every politician. It’s the kind of work that invites people to think about what it means. To a housewife it might be a reminder of the drudgery of doing laundry.’
And the public art we have in Philadelphia really punctuates the environment, makes us look and think and describes the outdoor setting.
Balkin Bach says Philadelphia has, in total, about 1500 works of public art. In addition to the Redevelopment Authority’s one percent program, the city also has a one percent program for its own buildings. Other iconic pieces, such as the Love Statue, were funded by private donors, or sponsored by the Fairmount Park Art Association.
Balkin Bach: ‘I think its what makes Philadelphia a great pedestrian city, a great city to walk in the great tradition of Europe, because there’s something right at your feet, there’s something to look at. And the public art we have in Philadelphia really punctuates the environment, makes us look and think and describes the outdoor setting. I think we’re very fortunate. It gives people a lot to think about and a lot to like.'”