Arts Initiatives and Public Art


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Attention artists and arts organizations! 
Don't miss these exciting opportunities to get involved!  
See the table below for details.    

Percent for the Arts Program

Each year, the City of Rochester sets aside 1% of the total development costs of qualifying capital (infrastructure) projects to help fund public art in the community. For example, a $3.5M bridge project would result in the City setting aside $35K for public art. The art does not necessarily have to be installed on that bridge. 

Most years, there are several capital projects that would contribute to this calculation. The City then has a variety of processes and programs to invest that money throughout the community. This formalized process began in Fiscal Year (FY) ’21-’22, resulting in $200K set aside for public art programs such as the Community Equity Public Art Project described below. Plans are underway for investing the $236K from FY ’22-’23 and an estimated $271K from FY ’23-’24, including some current opportunities listed below:


Upcoming Arts Projects

Program Description Key Dates
Bloomberg Public Art Challenge  In February 2023, the City applied for the Bloomberg Public Art Challenge, which will provide grants of up to $1 million to cities for temporary public art that addresses an urban issue. The City will be forming a network of partners with youth and arts-based organizations and artists to create multiple pieces centered around the issue of youth trauma.

Click here for more information >> 
Bloomberg Philanthropies will announce Finalists this spring. Stay tuned!
Public Art Equity Project (My Rochester & LOCUS:FOCUS)  The inaugural Percent for the Arts project where selected artists will work with the community to install a series of murals and mosaic artworks.

Click here for more information >> 
The Call for Mosaic Concepts is closed; concepts are currently being reviewed. Work is projected to begin this fall, with installation completed next spring.

The Call for Mural Concepts is closed; concepts are in review. Work is projected to begin this summer.
ArtsBloom The City recently approved a policy amendment that allows Percent for the Arts funding to also be spent on non-capital art, including arts education, performance art, and temporary art. In this year's cycle, $100,000 will be available for non-capital art.

Click here for more information >> 
Request for Proposals released on April 21, 2023. Proposals due by 5:00 pm on June 1, 2023.
Arts & Culture Plan for the City of Rochester and Monroe County  The Arts and Culture Plan will provide a blueprint for investing in and improving the local creative ecosystem. It will be created by the community, for the community, with facilitation assistance by provided by City staff and a planning consultant.

Click here for more information >> 
Request for Proposals to find a consultant to be released in early May 2023.
Sister Cities Bridge Public Art Installation The project scope calls for a sculptural installation that will be located downtown in the middle of the new Sister Cities Pedestrian Bridge over the Genesee River. More information to come!

Click here for more information >>
Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to be released in Spring 2023.

Whether you’re an artist or simply an arts lover, would you like to know about other ways to get involved? The City of Rochester has an ongoing need for people to serve on juries and panels to review submissions related to our various arts initiatives. Interested? Please fill out this form to submit your name and background for consideration.

Check back on this page for updates, new projects, and ongoing developments regarding arts initiatives in the City of Rochester.  


On February 14, 2023, Mayor Evans announced a series of public arts initiatives, as summarized in the table above. Click below to watch the full video.



A City of the Arts and for the Arts

Rochester is home to a robust arts and culture community and a blossoming network of creative professionals in the local economy. Rochester’s historic roots established a legacy of large arts and cultural institutions. Today, the arts have grown into a multitude of small arts organizations and individual artists. Whether visiting one of the City’s museums, viewing new work at artist studios such as the Hungerford, taking a dance class or simply walking past a mural, the arts instill a sense of place, connect diverse residents and provide a retreat in Rochester.

Rochester has demonstrated a commitment to strengthening arts and culture. From 2016 to June 2022, the City funded over $2.6M of public art and arts education using City operating funds, City cash allocations, CDBG and other grant funding, and Library-specific funding. An additional $2M of City funding has supported special events, including many annual festivals, since 2017. For more information about these arts and culture investments, see these links:

  • To learn more about the $2.6M of public art and arts education funded by the City, see the information here>>
  • To learn more about the special events funded by the City, click here>>
  • All of this information was compiled into the City's arts and culture investment map, which can be found here>>

The City will annually update this inventory of arts and culture investment.

With this strong framework, Rochester has an opportunity to further grow and strengthen the arts. While the Neighborhood of the Arts and Downtown are centers of arts and culture, residents want to see a diversity of arts and cultural amenities in their neighborhoods throughout the City. Artists and small arts organizations are similarly calling for more equitable distribution of public art funding, including for often underrepresented artists and organizations. Artists and small arts organizations are also grappling with the recent dissolution of the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, which previously provided centralized advocacy and support for the creative sector.


Arts and Culture Committees

The City of Rochester works collaboratively with local artists to advance the community’s desire for a more dynamic city of the arts and for the arts, one in which the arts are accessible to all Rochesterians regardless of where someone lives or their ability, and where there is committed support for small organizations and individual artists representing the diversity of Rochester.

The City Arts Team (CAT) and the Arts and Creative Community Committee (AC3) were created in April 2021 to move this vision forward. 

The CAT is an interdepartmental committee established to advance various arts-related initiatives for the City. CAT members are City staff that have experience and ongoing involvement in the selection, installation, and maintenance of public art. Members include staff from the Office of Management and Budget, Law Department, Department of Recreation and Human Services, Department of Environmental Services, Office of Special Events, the Bureau of Communications, the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, and the Office of City Planning (lead staff). The team's primary responsibilities are to:

  • Formalize and implement the Percent for the Arts program.  
  • Develop an Arts and Culture Plan to identify the vision, goals and action plan to further support and grow the creative community.
  • Establish the structure and mission of a City Arts Commission.

CAT Members:

  • Kevin Kelley (lead facilitator), Manager of City Planning, Office of City Planning 
  • Heather Anderson (lead staff), Senior City Planner, Office of City Planning 
  • Barbara Pierce, Director of Communications, Bureau of Communications 
  • ReyJeanne Antoine, Social Media Coordinator, Bureau of Communications
  • Holly Barrett, City Engineer, Department of Environmental Services 
  • Ellen Micoli Soffa, Assistant Landscape Architect, Department of Environmental Services 
  • Sabrina Boykin, Assistant Architect, Department of Environmental Services 
  • Sara Scott, Director of Recreation & Parks Stewardship, Department of Recreation and Human Services 
  • Johanna Brennan, Municipal Attorney, Law Department 
  • Liliana Ruiz, Director of Special Projects & Educational Initiatives, Mayor's Office 
  • Anne DaSilva Tella, Director of Development, Neighborhood and Business Development Department
  • Kara Osipovitch, Manager of Special Events, Office of Special Events 
  • Kristina Heiligenthaler, Principal Staff Assistant, Office of Management & Budget 
  • Terrance McCutchen, Violence Prevention Senior Coordinator, Office of Violence Prevention


The AC3 is a group of stakeholders that represents various artists, genres, venues, and institutions within this critical sector of the Rochester community.  This committee serves as an advisory panel, with the goal of giving feedback and lending their expertise on the projects that are the CAT’s primary responsibilities.  The AC3 also serves as a strong partner in advancing various initiatives through outreach, advocacy, research, and forging connections with other partners.  The Office of City Planning facilitates the overall AC3 process and coordinates with committee co-chairs and the CAT.  

AC3 Members:

Recordings of AC3 Meetings:

Click Recordings of Meetings to see all

Arts and Creative Community Committee

Creative Community Empowerment Plan Subcommittee

Arts Investment Guidance Subcommittee

AC3 Meeting materials:




Upcoming Project Descriptions

Bloomberg Public Art Challenge

In February 2023, the City submitted its first phase application for the Bloomberg Public Art Challenge, which will provide grants of up to $1M to cities for temporary public art that addresses an urban issue. While the applicant must be a Mayor, the program requires a partnership between government, artists, and organizations. 

The City of Rochester's proposal to Bloomberg is entitled “Centering Youth: Acknowledging Trauma and Healing through Public Art." This topic gets to the heart of many issues in Rochester; youth in Rochester experience trauma from violence, disparities in education, the pandemic, and multi-generational poverty. We will propose a community-wide effort to create multiple public artworks – whether it be installations, performances, or other creative expressions. The public artworks will include art created by youth and art inspired by youth. The City is looking forward to exploring the prospects for this proposal:

  • Artistic expression is a strategy for healing from trauma and for prevention of youth violence;
  • Youth civic engagement provides real-world learning opportunities and reinforces social connection for youth that were lost during the early days of the pandemic; and
  • Expanding youth opportunities, including work experience, shows youth that they have value.

Further project concept development will happen as we identify the network of partners for the project. The City is prioritizing a collaborative effort for this project. Additionally, the City is committing a minimum of $200K to the project and welcomes financial or in-kind contributions from organizations to create a more robust project. Opportunities for participation include:

Partner Type Role, if Selected Paid or Volunteer How to Apply/Participate
Lead Partner
(artists; organizations focused on arts management, art therapy, youth development/engagement, community outreach, or project management)
  • Work w/ the City to further develop the project
  • Be part of the team submitting a Phase 2 application later this spring
  • Help administer and implement the project during 2024-2025
Paid The City released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to identify Lead Partners. the submission period for this RFQ has closed and submissions are currently in review.
Project Artist Work w/ youth and other community partners to create one or more artworks (artistic medium TBD) in 2024-2025 Paid, with some opportunities for other artists to collaborate as volunteers Respond to a later Call for Art.
Note that artists selected as Lead Partners will be eligible to respond to the Call for Art, provided they have not participated in the specific task of developing the Call for Art, thus avoiding a conflict of interest.
Supporting Partner
(organization or individual)
Various opportunities to support and collaborate with the City, Lead Partners, and Project Artists such as:
  • Providing spaces for art installations or performances
  • Helping promote the project
  • Providing support to facilitators and organizers
  • Participating on the project steering committee
Volunteer/in-kind contributions, with the possibility of some paid opportunities. Contact Heather Anderson to discuss partnership opportunities:
Supporting Funder
(organization or individual)
Provide additional funding to the project to make it even more robust. N/A Contact Heather Anderson to discuss partnership opportunities:


Public Art Equity Project

The inaugural Percent for the Arts competitive process is being administered by two consultants. See below for more details. 

LOCUS : FOCUS (mosaic art)

Roc Arts United is administering this public art program. LOCUS:FOCUS aims to create at least two site-specific significant mosaic artworks that capture the contemporary spirit and memory of a neighborhood. The resulting monuments will “set in stone” tangible community connections to public spaces. The creation process should be collaborative, both inspired by and physically constructed with the support of neighborhood residents and vested community members. Priority will be given to Rochester-area artists and community partners throughout the project. The period for concept submissions is now closed and concepts are in review. Continue visiting this webpage or visit this website >>  for updates. Work is projected to begin this fall with installation completed in the spring.

My Rochester (murals) 

Aria Strategies LLC is administering this public mural program under the theme My Rochester, an exploration of what Rochester means and has meant to artists and communities from different backgrounds and lived experiences, their hopes, hard work, losses, and victories. There are many Rochesters; depending on lived experiences, Rochester is a different city to each of us. This project invites artists to showcase their lived experiences with and in Rochester, and share their experiences through their personal lens. Continue to visit this webpage for updates, or submit questions, comments or inquiries to Aria Camaione-Lind and/or Tamara Leigh at Work is projected to start this summer. 



ArtsBloom is the City’s non-capital art competition funded through the Percent for the Arts program. It is designed to fund arts education, performing arts, and temporary art, as opposed to permanent physical installations (capital art) that are funded through other Percent for the Arts programs. The goals of this program are to enrich and expand the experience of public art for all Rochesterians by reaching historically underserved residents, while increasing economic opportunities for local artists and small arts organizations in Rochester.

The City released the first ArtsBloom Request for Proposals (RFP) on April 21, 2023. In this inaugural round, a total of $100,000 will fund diverse arts programming and projects that benefit the Rochester community. The concept for the ArtsBloom Project was developed in partnership with an advisory panel of local artists and members of the arts community called the Arts and Creative Community Committee (AC3).  

Respondents may submit a funding request for one of three options: $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000. Each Respondent may only submit one funding request. See below for the full RFP and attachments.  

The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2023. The City convened a Pre-Submission Conference on May 10, 2023 at 1:00 pm so that interested artists and organizations could learn more and ask questions of the project team. The conference was recorded in two segments. You can watch them here>> and here>>. NOTE: Watch both segments to hear all of the information available.

The deadline for questions about ArtsBloom has passed. The City has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions document based on all questions received by the questions deadline. You can find that document here>>.

Heather Anderson is the Project Manager for ArtsBloom. You can contact her at


Arts & Culture Plan for the City of Rochester and Monroe County

Request for Proposals (RFP) – early May

The Arts & Culture Plan will provide a blueprint for investing in and improving the local creative ecosystem. It will be created by the community, for the community, with facilitation assistance provided by City staff and a planning consultant. The Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan identified an arts and culture plan for the City as one of the actions to achieve the goal of supporting, growing, and sustaining the creative economy. The City already has an advisory group of local arts stakeholders – the Arts and Creative Community Committee (AC3) – that has been working on the Plan’s framework.

The Plan will have a particular focus on historically underrepresented and underserved populations in the community. It will concentrate on recommendations for the City of Rochester, but will address the broader Rochester area as well. Monroe County will be involved with this Plan as well. They have important perspectives to offer and the arts and culture scene has little regard for municipal boundaries.

The Plan will be a graphically-rich, user-friendly, and implementation-oriented document. It will include an arts and culture inventory and will establish a strategic framework with a set of goals, objectives, and actions, all under the umbrella of a vision and key values that guide decision making. The Plan will be designed so that successful implementation will be a shared effort between local government, institutions, non-profits, businesses, and individuals.

Because of the highly unique nature of an Arts & Culture Plan, the City will be engaging a specialized consultant to facilitate the process and develop the Plan. The consultant will ideally have a diverse staff and have experience with:

  • Developing arts & culture plans, public art master plans, and other community plans;
  • Robust and creative community engagement, especially with artists;
  • Encouraging collaboration between municipalities and non-profit arts organizations;
  • High-quality graphic design for documents, websites, and other project materials; and
  • Best practices in other communities.

The consultant will be selected through a City Request for Proposals, ensuring an equitable, fair and transparent process.

The City and stakeholders are prioritizing community outreach for the Arts & Culture plan with the following goals:

  • Ensure that the community knowledge and expertise of a broad segment of residents are captured in the Plan
  • Value the expertise of members of the public who make a time commitment to the Plan
  • Foster civic leadership in local artists
  • Facilitate innovative thinking around outreach for the City and County

To ground this Plan in the community, the City will facilitate several opportunities for engagement, including Artist Engagement Teams and stipends for public members of teams with recurring meetings and focus groups. See below for more on Artist Engagement Teams.

Call for Artist Engagement Teams – summer 2023 

Minneapolis piloted the use of Artist Engagement Teams to assist with outreach as a way to move beyond traditional modes of outreach to more effectively engage residents most impacted by the legacy of inadequate and often racist policies and practices. Minneapolis has continued to use Artist Engagement Teams beyond the pilot to shape City outreach.

The City intends to utilize this model for the Arts & Culture Plan development. The City will release a Call for Artists – four qualified artists will receive $4,000 each for participating during the year of plan development as Artist Engagement Teams (two teams of two). The teams will assist the consultant and the City in developing an outreach plan, and they will carry out specific outreach strategies. The outcome is two-fold: artists recruited from underrepresented and underserved communities have a better understanding of how to connect with those communities that face barriers in outreach participation; and an artist’s creative process becomes a tool to develop new modes of outreach to improve participation generally.

Examples of arts and culture plans from other cities:   


Sister Cities Bridge Public Art Installation

A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will be released in Spring 2023

The project scope calls for a sculptural installation that will be located downtown in the middle of the new Sister Cities Pedestrian Bridge over the Genesee River. More information to come.

Arts Initiatives Contacts


Miscellaneous Resources

  • Arts in the Loop – an initiative started by the Eastman School of Music and a strong partner of the AC3.
  • Meet on Main  – an Arts in the Loop study of arts funding and organizational models in five other cities.
  • Arts + Culture Section of Rochester 2034