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The CACHH Civic Art & Design program solicits and facilitates the inclusion of artist–designed functional enhancements in otherwise ordinary elements of the urban infrastructure. By managing the work of artists as members of the design teams that work to build the city’s operational fabric—bridges, sidewalks, parks, memorials, fountains, airports, and even signage—the Civic Art & Design program brings artists’ strengths to bear on the mundane, helping to enliven the workaday, and injecting the unexpected into the ordinary.

Artists’ contributions of meaning and beauty, ambiguity and clarity are compensated through professional contracts that make work on civic art projects an effective earned-income venture for artists, providing an important and practical addition to the traditional avenues of gallery sales, commissions and teaching that provide income for working artists.

The work of the Civic Art & Design program also permits (and promotes) the model of creative collaboration. It is often said that Houston is a city of neighborhoods, and when projects are proposed for an area, CACHH considers imperative the solicitation of input and participation from the project’s future neighbors. When neighborhood representatives are given the chance to participate in the design process for a new bridge, or a new park, or even a coordinated program of streetlights and signage, the project can become a source of pride, and a marker of community identity.

Department staff work extensively on the front-end of each project and collaboration. In every case, the scope of work to be executed, and the process by which artists are selected, is tailored for the requirements of the specific project.

Civic Art & Design in the Public Sector
With principle funding from the City of Houston’s “Percent For Art” ordinance (passed 1999, and requiring a certain percentage of the budgets of City capital improvement projects to be set aside for artistic enhancements), CACHH Civic Art & Design works extensively with the City of Houston, and City departments including Parks & Recreation, Convention & Entertainment Facilities, the Houston Airport System, the Health Department, the Fire Department, Public Works and Engineering, and others. In addition, the department works with Harris County, the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO).

Civic Art & Design in the Private Sector
The Civic Art & Design program also works in consultation and under contract with businesses and organizations in the private sector. These entities include Keep Houston Beautiful, the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, the Old Sixth Ward Historic Association, the University of Houston, Central Houston Civic Improvement, the Houston Downtown Management District, DiverseWorks Artspace, the Art League of Houston, Project Row Houses, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the O’Kane Gallery and others.

General Services
CACHH Civic Art & Design provides a resource library for use by artists and design professionals, and maintains a slide library of work by artists working
in (and interested in working in) the field of civic art. Department staff present slide lectures for interested parties, and sponsor and co-sponsor workshops and lectures on the challenges, potential, and nature of civic art collaborations. CACHH Civic Art & Design also participates actively in the national dialogue
on civic and public art, through publications, conference participation and advisory relationships.


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