Live the art. Love the place. 

The mission of Scottsdale Public Art is to serve as a leader in defining art in the public realm through creative place-making, signature cultural events, exhibitions, and installations—contributing to the community’s creative, cultural, and economic vitality.

We Strive To:

  • Promote a strong sense of place and a unique identity for Scottsdale.
  • Be nationally and internationally recognized for our innovative approaches to public art.
  • Promote quality urban planning and design, working with city staff and private developers.
  • Contribute to tourism and the economic vitality of the city.
  • Both preserve and create history.
  • Support and encourage a strong, vital regional artist community.
  • Develop innovative partnerships to maximize the program’s reach and budget.
  • Continue leading the national field in the care and maintenance of the city’s public art collection.


Scottsdale Arts is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that—through a City Council-approved agreement—administers the city’s arts and cultural affairs. Scottsdale Arts includes the following branches: Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), Scottsdale Public Art, and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation. 

Since 1987, Scottsdale Public Art has managed the city’s public art program, which includes: 

  • The Art in Public Places public art program, using funds from the city’s capital projects; 
  • The Cultural Improvements Program, using funds from private development projects; 
  • Care and management of the city’s Portable Works and Permanent Public Art Collections; 
  • Exhibitions at Scottsdale Civic Center and Appaloosa Libraries; 
  • Special programming like temporary public art projects (i.e. IN FLUX) and Cycle for the Arts; and 
  • Canal Convergence, a 10-day temporary public art event every November. 

The mission for Scottsdale Public Art is to serve as a leader in defining art in the public realm through creative place-making, signature cultural events, exhibitions, and installations, contributing to the community’s creative, cultural, and economic vitality. 


  1. How does the city pay for public art? Scottsdale pays for public art in three ways: 
  • The city of Scottsdale pays Scottsdale Arts to manage and administer the public art program, including special events such as Canal Convergence, and for the conservation and maintenance of existing public art. 
  • Scottsdale sets aside 1% of the approved budget of each publicly visible capital improvement project for public art. 
  • Some private development projects are required to make a 1% contribution for public art.  

Note: Scottsdale Public Art also receives some earned and contributed revenues from private sources. 

  1. What city ordinances provide the fund allocation for the public art program? There are several: 
  • Ordinance 1836, passed in 1985, established policy on the use of 1% of public (city) building funds for public art. The Art in Public Places policy has been amended multiple times over the years with the most recent changes occurring in 2008 (Ordinance 3781) to offer clarity and further define language for different aspects of the program. 
  • Ordinance 2018, passed in 1988, established the Cultural Improvements Program (also known as the Art in Private Development Program) for downtown Scottsdale, designating that developers allocate 1% of their building valuation into a cultural trust fund for use toward public art.    
  1. Does the city have a dedicated tax for public art? No.  
  2. How many pieces of public art does the city have?  

As of the latest inventory on March 30, 2021, Scottsdale owns 1,155 pieces of public art. Of these, 588 are on display in city offices and buildings and 146 are outdoors on public buildings and city-owned property. 

  1. What was the first work of art donated to Scottsdale? 
  • The first artwork donated to the city, in 1961, is a mahogany woodcarving titled Chaplain Winfield Scott on Early Scottsdale Street. It was a gift of the artist, Dee Flagg, and is currently on view in the jury deliberation room for Scottsdale’s city court. 
  • The Scottsdale Fine Arts Commission was developed in 1967 to manage the city’s artistic affairs, including artwork donated to Scottsdale. 
  1. What was the first public art piece commissioned by Scottsdale? 
  • Scottsdale’s first commissioned public sculpture was finished in 1973. Louise Nevelson’s sculpture Atmospheres and Environments XIII (more commonly known as Windows to the West) was completed with a combination of city funds, citizen donations, and funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Windows to the West is located at the Gateway Plaza of the new civic Center park, near AZ88 restaurant. 
  • The first public art commissioned after implementation of the 1985 percent for art ordinance was Mustang Wall, by Ken Williams, in Mustang Library. It was completed in 1989. 
  1. Who makes the decisions regarding the artwork, whether it is the selection of the artist, the selection of a site, or the funding allocation for a particular project? 
  • The Scottsdale Public Art Advisory Board—comprising up to 10 volunteer community members who have expertise in different aspects of creative place-making—is tasked with providing oversight to Scottsdale Public Art staff with regard to the city’s various public art initiatives.   Decisions by the board are based on criteria that ensures the best possible sites, artists, and artwork are selected for Scottsdale. 
  • Scottsdale Public Art Advisory Board members are elected to three-year terms, pending a vigorous nomination process. The nomination process occurs twice a year. 
  1. I’m an artist interested in applying for a public art project. What should I do? Scottsdale Public Art is interested in working with all artists, whether local, national, or international. There are two options to consider: 
  1. I have an idea for a public art project; how can Scottsdale Public Art help make it a reality? 
  • Scottsdale Public Art staff members are available to consult with you about your idea, discuss feasibility, or answer any other questions you may have. Check out for more information.   
  1. What websites can I access for more information on Scottsdale Public Art? 
  • For information about various aspects of the public art program, click on the menu at the upper-right-hand corner of this website. 

Scottsdale Public Art is partially funded by the City of Scottsdale public art ordinances and managed by Scottsdale Arts, a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) management organization that administers the arts and cultural affairs of the city of Scottsdale and also manages Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation.