News from the Top: The Power of Public Art in Our Communities

October 23, 2019

Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership serves as Chair of the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) Board of Directors. Tami offers her expertise in city building to members of IDA in her monthly News from the Top column.

As city builders, we know that art adds more to our cities than just enticing splashes of color. Art has the power to impact our economies, our identities, and our people. It surprises and delights, reduces stress and crime, creates a sense of belonging, and, ultimately, helps us create places where people and business want to be.

According to Americans for the Arts “seventy-three percent of Americans agree that the arts ‘helps me understand other cultures better.’” In a time when it’s easy to feel a sense of division, art can help us create mutual understanding and social connectivity.

People want to be where art is, and art helps create a strong sense of place for people who live, work and visit our districts and cities. When people feel a strong sense of place, they are more likely to invest their lives in that place by buying homes and investing in their careers, which contributes to a strong economy.

In terms of implementation, one of the great things about impactful public art is that it comes in many forms. Sure, large-scale murals or permanent sculptures are undoubtedly significant, but so are temporary installations and community-created pieces. Ask your communities for input (check out how Downtown Frederick, MD is tapping into their community), work with your property owners to add color to an underutilized alleyway, and remember, no matter the size or scale of the piece, every addition of art matters.