Arts Council of Wales | Lottery Capital Programme: Additional Guidance Notes: Public Art

Lottery Capital Programme: Additional Guidance Notes: Public Art



How to use the Additional Guidance Notes

What you can apply for

Early Engagement of Artists

The Two Stage Application Process

Our Requirements for Public Art

Useful Information


Welcome to our Additional Guidance Notes: Public Art

Commissioning public art can be complex and challenging, but by following best practice and placing artists at the core of your approach, public art can be exciting, rewarding and can enhance and enliven the built and natural environment.

We want to support public art that is high quality and follows best practice. This Guidance should help you plan and deliver public art projects which match our ambition. It will help you understand the types of public art projects we can fund and what we expect to see in applications to the Lottery Capital Programme for public art projects. It will also tell you about our two-stage application process.

How to use the Additional Guidance Notes

These Additional Guidance Notes assume that if you intend to apply for more than £50,000 you have completed the Project Registration process and we have invited you to apply for funding. If this is not the case, please read more about registering your project in the General Guide to the Arts Council of Wales Lottery Capital Programme.

This Guidance should be read as a "stand-alone" document at the outset of your project to provide you with an overview. You should revisit specific sections as you progress through the process to ensure you do not lose sight of key issues which we will expect you to have considered.

You should read this Guidance alongside the General Guide to the Arts Council of Wales Lottery Capital Programme and our Capital Strategy 2012-2017.

If you are looking for information to help you fill in your application form(s), please read the relevant Funding Help Notes.

If you are looking for information about public art as part of your building project, you should read our Additional Guidance Notes: Major Capital Projects. The sections on best practice in this Guidance will however provide you with useful background information.

What you can apply for

Organisations can apply for Capital Lottery funding towards the cost of the design, development and implementation of art in the public realm. Projects can be located in the urban, rural or natural environment, but they must be located on sites with wide public access. This is so that as many people as possible can experience and benefit from your public art project.

If you would like to understand more about what the term public art means, you may find the definition used by ixia, the public art think tank, useful.

Strategic Context

Your public art project must be part of a well-conceived, wider strategic plan, and you will need to show that your proposals are integral to this strategic project, and are not an add-on.

There is increasingly a role for art within many public sector led strategies and frameworks. Examples include local authority regeneration strategies, town centre regeneration plans, infrastructure works such as highways redevelopments, urban and rural masterplans and rural development plans.

If you think you have identified a strategic opportunity for public art please contact us for a discussion.


We use Capital Lottery funding to support the commissioning of public art. Capital Lottery funding has to be used to create assets. This means that although we will consider supporting temporary work that is time-based or process-based, the overall outcomes of your public art project must have a degree of permanency.


In the past, we have funded stand-alone public art commissions. This type of project is now a lesser priority for Capital Lottery funding.

We do not provide Capital Lottery funding towards:

  • Memorials, including those to individual people, that will take the form of statuary or figurative work
  • Murals
  • Public art within schools, due to their limited public access.

Please contact us if you are unsure whether your public art project is eligible for funding.

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Early Engagement of Artists

We want to support public art that is integrated and strategic, not "bolted-on" and reactionary. In order to achieve this, we want you to consider the role art can play in your wider strategic project at the earliest possible opportunity. We believe the best way to do this is to work with artists as soon as you can in your wider strategic project’s development.

Involving artists at an early stage means that they can work with design teams and project / development teams to identify opportunities for integrated arts based interventions. It enables the start of a creative dialogue and means that a shared understanding about approaches to art can be developed.

Perhaps more importantly, early engagement means that artists can be involved in more strategic discussions, rather than simply identifying opportunities for art. This can foster a collaborative design approach, with artists contributing to general design discussions as well as working on specific design challenges.

In this way, the role of the artist goes beyond that of producer / maker to one of being, for example, a creative questioner, influencer or problem-solver. This can bring a valuable, added dimension to your wider strategic scheme.

To promote and encourage the early engagement of artists and to help you think about art early in your planning process, we use a two stage application process to support public art projects.

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The Two Stage Application Process

We believe that our two stage application process helps develop and deliver high quality projects. The two stages are:

  • Research and Development
  • Implementation
Research and Development

We want you to have the opportunity to devise projects that are innovative, exciting and integrated both conceptually and practically into your wider strategic project.

We’re open to your ideas, that’s why our approach is not to be prescriptive, and why this Guidance doesn’t give you a long list of what you can’t or shouldn’t do.

Our requirements, which you will read about later in this Guidance, are not about restricting practice, instead they are about following best practice, and we think that meeting our expectations will help you deliver exemplary projects.

The Research and Development phase will help us support you to develop your public art project. It aims to:

  • Support the scoping out of public art opportunities and approaches
  • Enable the integration of arts based interventions into your wider strategic project at the earliest possible time, so ensuring that opportunities are not missed
  • Enable artist(s) and art professionals / curators to be involved as early as possible in order to encourage and promote a collaborative design approach
  • Enable and promote early public engagement and consultation to help create a sense of community ownership and involvement
  • Enable a period of research into the local context to take place to inform the project
  • Enable you to resolve as many technical / integration issues as possible in advance of the implementation phase
  • Enable you to work up the project to a sufficient level of detail so that you can apply for funding to implement your project

We will expect you to work with an artist(s) on the research and development phase of your project. It is recommended that you also work with an experienced arts professional / curator.

On completion of your research and development phase we will expect you to have created an arts strategy or plan. The exact content of this will depend on your project and its context, but we will expect it to include the following:

  • Your creative vision for the project
  • What you want to achieve (your goals or aims)
  • What the outcomes of your project will be, including
    • Possible sites / locations
    • Whether your outcomes will be functional, aesthetic, or temporary
    • The legacy of your project, including a statement about its permanency and lifespan
  • Artists’ briefs and your approach to artist recruitment and contracts
  • Your approach to setting up a steering group, its role and level of responsibility
  • How you will manage the project
  • Public engagement and consultation
  • Budgets and fundraising
  • A detailed programme, showing key milestones and continued integration with your wider strategic project
  • Maintenance plans
  • How you will know your project has been a success (evaluation)
  • How you will meet our requirements for public art projects
Applying for Research and Development Funding

The maximum grant you can apply for is £10,000. We will consider applications for up to 75% of the eligible costs of the project.


Once you have completed your arts strategy or plan, you should send it to us. We will give you some feedback and let you know if we are happy for you to move forward and make an application for funding to enable you to implement your public art project.

Existing Public Art Strategy or Plan

You may already have a public art strategy or plan that applies to your wider strategic project. If this is the case, you must send it to us so that we can review its content. It may be that your plan could be strengthened by being more detailed. In these circumstances we would recommend that you apply for a research and development grant. If your plan is extensive, we would recommend that you apply directly for implementation funding.

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Our Requirements for Public Art

We want to support public art projects that have a clear, creative vision and are:

  • Thought-provoking
  • Imaginative
  • Distinctive
  • Innovative
  • Compelling
  • Exciting
  • Aspirational, yet achievable.

We expect the public art projects we fund to be committed to quality and best practice.

We know that every opportunity to commission public art is different, and that there is no single "one size fits all" approach that can be followed. There are however best practice principles which all public art projects can and should adopt.

We expect all the applications we receive to tell us how they have considered our requirements, which are set out below.

Our requirements have implications for your project’s budget and timetable, so you should consider them carefully when planning your project.

You will be able to tell us how you have thought about our requirements in the project proposal that you will write as part of your applications.

Good Practice when working with artists

Artists are at the heart of all successful public art projects. There are widely recognised standards of practice for working with artists that we require to be met.

We expect:

  • The role of the artist within a public art project to be clearly defined and communicated effectively to all of the project’s stakeholders. It should be recognised that the artist’s role need not be limited to the producer or fabricator of artworks. Artists can play a role on the design team in collaboration with architects, designers and engineers, they can work with stakeholders and the local community and they can collaborate with other creative practitioners.
  • Artists to have the opportunity to maximise their role in the project by being involved at the earliest possible time.
  • Artists to be recognised as professionals, collaborating with other professionals, and should be appropriately and fairly paid.
  • Artists to be appropriately and fairly contracted.
  • Artists to be well-managed, supported and nurtured throughout their involvement in your public art project.

The Artists’ Information Company (a-n) can provide you with information on artists’ contracts and fee levels.

Early Engagement of Artists

We have already told you why we think the early engagement of artists is vital to successful public art projects.

We will expect to receive your application at the earliest possible opportunity in the development of your wider strategic project.

Project Management

You must work with an arts professional who is experienced in public art project management on the implementation of your project. They should have experience of:

  • Briefing, recruiting, appointing and contracting artists
  • Working with steering groups
  • Managing project budgets of significant value
  • Overseeing and steering the design development phase of a commission
  • Negotiating with major stakeholders such as commercial partners and contractors
  • Liaising between artist, commissioner and project stakeholders
  • Overseeing the fabrication and installation phase of a commission

You must be able to show how you made this appointment, and it must meet with our procurement requirements. (For further information see our Funding Help Notes).

If you think your organisation has sufficient experience and resources to manage the implementation of your public art project without external support, you should check with us first.

We know that employing external expertise will raise the cost of your project, but we think the role is vital to its success. Arts professionals / project managers can help clarify the roles of commissioner and artist(s). They are also in a position to challenge preconceived ideas in a way that can benefit your public art project. They can look at the opportunity with a new perspective and so can contribute to the project’s creative vision.

You can include the cost of external project management for your public art project in your application to us.

If you would like to read more about the different roles key stakeholders have in your public art project, you may find the Art in the Open Resource website useful.

Artist recruitment

We want you to appoint the best possible artist(s) for your public art project. Its success will depend on getting this right. We expect you to consider carefully your approach to artist recruitment.

The artists’ brief is a vital part of the recruitment process, and should clearly define the artists’ roles and responsibilities. So as to avoid restricting the role of the artist, we would expect the brief to be as open as possible.

We expect artists to be appointed following a recognised selection process which complies with equal opportunities.

In summary, the main ways in which artists are appointed are:

Open competition: the commission is advertised with artists being asked to submit an expression of interest and examples of work by a defined closing date. A shortlist is drawn up and these artists are invited to attend an interview

Limited competition: A long list of appropriate artists is researched, and a minimum of three artists are invited to attend an interview

Your project manager will be able to advise you on the most appropriate approach for your project.

On rare occasions, it may be appropriate to make a direct approach to an artist to ask them to consider the brief for your project. If you think this approach is suitable for your project you should check this with us before submitting your application.

You must show us that your chosen appointment process meets your organisation’s own rules and regulations on procurement.

Public Engagement and Consultation

All public art must be site specific and appropriate to its context. As such, we expect all public art projects that we support to include some public engagement and consultation. It is important not only to inform your public art project, but to foster amongst communities that are local to the commission a sense of ownership of and pride in the project.

We know that different types of project require different levels of and approaches to public engagement and consultation. You must tell us how you will approach public engagement and consultation, as part of both the research and development phase and the implementation phase.

Please note that the creative impetus and responsibility for your public art project must remain at all times with your appointed artist(s). The Capital Lottery programme will not support applications for projects if the intention is for the public to create the proposed public artwork.


We expect you to have considered the long-term impact of your public art project, both for your organisation and for the communities in which your project will be located or take place.

You should consider the lifespan of works that are conceived to have a degree of permanency. Many factors can affect the potential lifespan of an artwork (such as its location, proposed materials, revenue implications etc.), and you need to tell us how you have established the lifespan of works in your project.

Once your public art project has come to the end of its lifespan, or if unforeseen circumstances mean works are no longer suitable for their context, they must be decommissioned. You should tell us how you will decommission work, who will be responsible for this and how this cost will be met.

You should also consider the robustness of materials required for permanent works, to ensure they are fit for purpose. For example, the need to be appropriately anti-vandal, durable and suitable to maintain. You should develop a maintenance plan which shows who is responsible for maintenance work and how this cost will be met.

The sustainability of your public art project is also important when thinking about its legacy. You should consider how your project is applying key principles of sustainability.

The organisation Chrysalis Arts has devised the Public Art Sustainability Assessment (PASA), in order to promote good sustainable practice in public art. Read more by clicking here.

You should also consider how you will know if your public art project has been successful and how it can be effectively evaluated.

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Useful Information

The following organisations may be able to provide you with information that will help you develop and deliver your public art project. We are providing these details for information only. By doing so we are not endorsing any of these organisations and we are not responsible for the content of external websites, publications produced by other organisations, or for the advice you may receive from them.

Please be aware that we will not recommend specific consultants, organisations or artists to work with you on your project.

If you would like more information about the other ways the Arts Council supports public art, please contact us and we will put you in touch with an Officer who can help you.

a-n (The Artists’ Information Company)

An online resource for visual and applied artists, collaborators and commissioners. The website includes interactive legal contracts and fees toolkits.

Art in the Open Resource

Created by Open City, this website is a resource for art in the public realm in London. It nevertheless contains useful information including case studies, toolkits and research which can be applied to all public art projects.


Artquest encourage critical engagement and provides practical support to visual artists throughout their careers.

The Artquest website features Artlaw, a free legal resource for visual artists which contains over 300 articles and frequently asked questions about law and the arts.

Chrysalis Arts / Public Art Sustainability Assessment (PASA)

Chrysalis Arts has devised the Public Art Sustainability Assessment (PASA) in order to promote good sustainable practice in public art. The toolkit is available for free from the above website.


ixia is the UK wide public art think tank based in Birmingham. It provides guidance on the role of art in the public realm. ixia carries out research, supports events and delivers training, and commissions new writing and publications.

ixia also manages Public Art Online,, which is an excellent source of information, case studies and resources relating to art in the public realm.

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