a walking man statue in newcastle england
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Is Public Art the Best Investment of Our Time or a Total Waste of Money?


Many people view public art as a waste of taxpayer money. They believe that the funds could be better spent on other, more important things like education or infrastructure. However, what many people don’t realize is that it can actually be a good investment. Here are the driving forces:

  • Increasing property values.
  • Attracting tourists and boosting the local economy.
  • Increasing foot traffic in retail areas.
  • Fostering a sense of community pride.
  • Improving civic engagement.

by David Stone

The East River Roundabout a public installation by Alice Aycock in New York City

Let’s take a closer look at each of these points.

  • Art Installations Can Increase Property Values. A study by the National Endowment for the Arts found that every $1 spent on public art results in an increase of $30 in property values. This is because public art makes an area more desirable to live in, work in, and visit. Consequently, property values go up when there is public art present.
  • Public Art Can Attract Tourists and Boost the Local Economy. Tourists are always looking for something new and exciting to see and do when they travel somewhere new. By investing in public art, cities and towns can make themselves more appealing to tourists, which will result in an influx of visitors and a boost to the local economy.
  • Large Open Air Sculptures Can Increase Foot Traffic in Retail Areas. Retail businesses rely on foot traffic to drive sales. People need to physically be in the store to buy things! One study found that pedestrian foot traffic increased by 52% when there was an art installation nearby. More foot traffic means more sales, which is good news for retail businesses!
  • Public Art Can Foster a Sense of Community Pride. Residents who take pride in their community are more likely to get involved and help make it a better place to live for everyone. Studies have shown that people who live near public art are more likely to volunteer their time and donate money to causes they care about. helping to create a stronger sense of community overall.
  • Shared Creations Can Improve Civic Engagement. Civic engagement refers to people’s involvement in activities that contribute to the well-being of their communities. When people are engaged with their community, they are more likely to invest time and energy into making it better. A study from the University of Buffalo found that people who lived near public art were more likely to vote and participate in other forms of civic engagement.

    Is Public Art Good for Communities, After All?

    As you can see, there are many benefits to investing in public art. Not only does it make an area more visually appealing, but it also has the power to increase property values, attract tourists, boost the local economy, and improve civic engagement.

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