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The City of San José Public Art Program (SJPA) seeks to build community through artworks and exhibitions that define creative placemaking: expanding the community’s access and engagement to public space and impacting the economic and visual dynamics of the city. SJPA’s priorities are guided by the goals and values of project partners and the community. Through active engagement between artists and project stakeholders, SJPA strives to celebrate the city’s diversity, historic richness, and envision its present and future by enhancing the quality of life for its many residents, businesses, and visitors.

Since its beginnings in 1984, SJPA has evolved significantly from its initial focus on commissioning major artworks for downtown, to community facilities in neighborhoods throughout the city. In recent years, SJPA has focused on libraries, parks, public safety facilities, city hall, the convention center, and the Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport. These public art projects explore a broad range of strategic placemaking initiatives engaging artists, the community and other civic partners in the areas of civic identity, environmental change, transportation and neighborhood activation.
The program has facilitated projects that are recognized nationally and internationally for innovative programming. As part of the broader Office of Cultural Affairs goals for a vibrant arts community, SJPA has been awarded prestigious grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and ArtPlace America for its art and placemaking initiatives.

SJPA is part of the City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs, a division of the Office of Economic Development, operates in accordance with Title 22 of the San Jose Municipal Code. Funds to support SJPA are provided by municipal ordinance specifying that 1% of City capital improvement project budgets be set aside for the commission, purchase, and installation of artworks. Additionally SJPA consults to other municipalities, public agencies and businesses seeking to implement public art.

There are currently over 250 diverse artworks located at 130 sites throughout the city managed by SJPA. Maintenance and conservation are important aspects of SJPA’s works.

The Public Art Committee (PAC), a sub-committee of the San José Arts Commission, oversees program activities by reviewing all work plans and approval of artworks on City property. The Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC) comprised of artists, arts and design professionals and urban planners, assists the PAC by providing technical advice.

Note: San Jose's Public Art Program does consultative work for outside government agencies and private entities.