Assessing Commonalities in Public Art and Comprehensive Planning Practice: A Direction for Atlanta
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Murals, sculptures, and other public art forms exists in public space and are a part of the everyday experience. Increasingly, city leaders, planners, and public art practitioners realize that public art has the potential to further desired economic, social, and design-based goals. In an analysis of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (MAP), one of the most expansive public art projects in the United States, Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert write that MAP’s murals “serve as an indicator of a neighborhood that has the ingredients to create revitalization, including a diverse population and a strong civic life. To the extent that murals serve as an expression of that transformation, we can say they have an impact in stabilizing and sustaining processes of community transformation” (Stern and Seifert 2003). Stern and Seifert illustrate that public art can operate as one tool in a set of comprehensive revitalization strategies, but that it is not a “silver bullet for transformation (Stern and Seifert 2003). Scholars today study direct impacts of public art, but more work can be done to understand how public art fits in as a tool for broader urban development strategies. More analysis of the intentions behind public art investments and the influence public art has on communities is needed to understand how to artfully use it as a tool to assist in bringing about desired social and economic goals. Because public art increasingly has social and economic intentions for urban spaces, city planners have a need to assess how public art affects the communities in which they work. This paper assesses the current practice of public art in the Atlanta region and its commonalities with urban planning practice.