Arts Initiatives and Public Art


 Chloe Smith, A Tibute to Edgar SantaCruz
Created with Percent for the Arts at Lincoln Library, 

Jump to: 

Attention artists! The City currently has no active Requests for Proposals. Continue checking this webpage for upcoming opportunities.

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
Public Art Equity Project (My Rochester & LOCUS:FOCUS)  The inaugural Percent for the Arts project where selected artists are working with the community to install a series of murals and mosaic artworks.

Click here for more information >> 
The selected mosaic artworks will be installed at Quamina Park in spring 2024.

The four murals are in various stages of completion. There will be a community celebration when all four murals are complete in spring 2024.
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 2023, $100,000 was awarded for non-capital art. 

Click here for more information >> 
The deadline for applications has passed. See below for more details or click here>> for more information. 
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. An Artist Engagement Team will be selected to assist with community engagement.

Click here for more information >>  
Monitor this webpage for updates!
 City Mark Capital Art Project  The project scope calls for an art installation with a focal point at the center of the Sister Cities Bridge that celebrates the "City Mark," the five-petaled symbol of Rochester's "Flower City" past and Flower City" present that has become a sign of community pride. More information to come!

Click here for more information >>
Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to be released soon.
Children's Art Competition for Peace Rochester is invited to participate in the annual International Mayors for Peace Children's Art Competition! Children and youth ages 6 to 15 are invited to create and submit a drawing or painting inspired by a specific theme. The top entries are displayed in a special exhibit at the City Hall Link Gallery. The selected artworks will then have the opportunity to compete internationally for the prestigious Mayors for Peace President's Award!

The City will have information about the 2024 competition in spring. Check back here soon!

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, Communications Aide, 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

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 will create two mosaic artworks at Quamina Park that capture the contemporary spirit and memory of a neighborhood through the oral histories of current and past residents. The resulting monuments will “set in stone” tangible community connections to public spaces. The creation process will be collaborative, both inspired by and physically constructed with the support of neighborhood residents and vested community members. Continue visiting this webpage or visit this website >>  for updates. Work on the oral history project will begin this winter with installation of the mosaic artwork 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 invited artists to showcase their lived experiences with and in Rochester, and share their experiences through their personal lens. Four murals were awarded, one each at the following locations: Ave D R-Center, Edgerton R-Center, Lincoln Library and School #19. Continue to visit this webpage for updates, or submit questions, comments or inquiries to Aria Camaione-Lind and/or Tamara Leigh at Work has started on the murals and will be completed spring 2024. 



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 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). 

2024 ArtsBloom awards will fund the following nine projects:

  • Carla Stough Huffman: $10,000 for four youth poetry and flash fiction workshops at the Rochester International Academy and three R-Centers, resulting in the creation of chapbooks.
  • Cordancia Chamber Orchestra: $20,000 for a free children's concert series featuring music of Black and Latinx composers, with narrators and color booklets.
  • Geva Theatre: $20,000 for ROC Geva Pass Phase II which will offer free theatre workshops and winter camps for ages 14 and up from the city’s lowest income zip codes.
  • Hochstein School: $20,000 for Dance Connections: Free World of Dance youth camps, weekly community classes, and professional development for city dance professionals.
  • Kuumba Consultants: $20,000 for The Wonderful Wizard of Roc City, a multidisciplinary performance inspired by community stories about home and belonging in Rochester that will take place across multiple city locations in 2025, celebrating the uniqueness of our community.
  • Rathaus Press: $20,000 for a free afterschool arts program for LGBTQ+ high school students, offering zine-making sessions and public showcases, alongside the creation of a free book documenting the program.
  • Rochester Latino Theatre Company: $20,000 for ”Alchemy of Healing,” a community art project based in several schools addressing identity and racial trauma through self-portraits, scar photography, and public exhibits.
  • ROC ROYAL, INC.: $20,000 for a free 8-week afterschool program fostering creative entrepreneurship for youth ages 7-18 through various art forms, culminating in a showcase of talents.
  • Writers & Books: $20,000 for free literary arts programs including SummerWrite camps and academic year workshops, fostering creativity, confidence, and literacy skills for youth aged 10-14

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


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

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 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.

 The Request for Qualifications to find three to four artists to assist with community engagement was released on December 19th! Application deadline: 11:59 pm on Sunday, February 4, 2024. Click here>> for the RFQ! 

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 has released a Request for Qualifications – there is $30,000 budgeted to pay three to four qualified artists participate throughout the year of plan development as an Artist Engagement Team. The team 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:   


City Mark Capital Art Project

A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) coming soon!

The project scope calls for an art installation with a focal point at the center of the Sister Cities Bridge that celebrates the "City Mark," the five-petaled symbol of Rochester's "Flower City" past and Flower City" present that has become a sign of community pride. 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