Release: Comptroller Henry Announces New Enforcement for the 1% for Art Program

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Bill Henry
Baltimore City
204 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-5410


Geoff Shannon, Public Relations Officer
(410) 387-5704


Baltimore, MD - The Comptroller's Office announced new enforcement measures to support the implementation of Baltimore City's 1% for Art Program.

Baltimore was the second city in the country to pass a 1% for Art law in 1964. The Percent-for-Art model requires that the City allocate 1% of all Capital construction costs to go towards public artwork.

"It has been brought to my office’s attention that while one or two agencies have been voluntarily sending 1% of their applicable construction costs to the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts for appropriate use in supporting public art, by and large, none of the City’s agencies have been actually following the process laid out in the City Code," Comptroller Bill Henry explained in a memo to City Administrator Chris Shorter.

According to the Baltimore Office of Promotion of the Arts (BOPA), "In 2019 BOPA proposed collecting the funds a year in arrears to avoid any discrepancies with actual verses estimated capital expenditure costs and to ensure that the appropriate funds are allocated and collected." To that end, BOPA invoiced City agencies $689,252.55 for FY19 and is still in the process of collecting the funds.

"I'm directing the Department of Audits to review all applicable construction projects coming before the Board of Estimates for compliance with the 1% for Art program," Comptroller Henry shared. "Specifically, they will be looking for both the amount allocated for Public Art and a description of the project as approved by the Public Art Commission, and we also encourage all agencies to utilize local artists for each project."

"I look forward to seeing the Mayor's Office, the City Administrator's office and the Comptroller's Office work together to enforce a law that has been on the books for some time now," said Councilman Ryan Dorsey, the sponsor of 21-0023R Informational Hearing - “1% for Art” Program. "Effectively managing the 1% for Art is essential to supporting our local artists, many of who that have been locked out of government aid during the pandemic."

This discourse was part of the Baltimore City Council Ways & Means Committee's informational hearing on the program today, where agencies shared support for the law and it's long history in Baltimore. "Baltimore predates [the NEA] in prioritizing art to heal communities with this program," shared Aaron Bryant, Head of the Baltimore Public Art Commission and Curator of Photography and Visual Culture, National Museum of African American History and Culture.

This new process is part of an effort from the Comptroller's Office to encourage more transparency in City spending. Enforcement will begin this spring as the Comptroller's Office works with BOPA and City agencies to identify projects.

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