3 Tips for Navigating the Pittsburgh Public Art Commission Process

Today three of our ReClaim South Ambassadors stood in front of the City of Pittsburgh’s Art Commission Board to present their neighborhood projects for approval. We want to share with you a few tips on navigating the civic process to get your vacant land idea supported by the city.

Cara presenting her Knoxville Incline Overlook design. She partnered with South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association and Allentown CDC.
Start Early!

For the ReClaim South Ambassadors, they started filling out the applications a few months ago. It isn’t a simple process; you must provide a letter of intent, seek letters of public support and include drawings and images on your intended design. Not only that, but starting sooner rather than later will help you schedule around the once-per-month meetings.  You can find the complete form on their website to get started.

Invest in Good Design.

Even if you don’t have a piece of “art” in your vacant lot idea, you still may be asked to fill out the art commission form. Like we mentioned earlier you will be asked to include images of your design. Not a designer? Neither were any of our Ambassadors when they started. See if you can make connections with the local design program at Pittsburgh-based universities. Personally, GTECH partnered with the Student Chapter of Landscape Architects at Chatham University to help the Ambassadors get their ideas down on paper and then the GTECH team helped get them presentation ready.

Don’t Go it Alone.

If you are doing a community art project, you should have the support of those around you. Connect with your local community development corporation (CDC) or another active community-based organization (CBO) and see if you can present your idea at their next meeting. Not only will it give you a chance to practice presenting, but also give you early feedback on your project. Partnering with other organizations in your area also has a lot of benefits, such as: helping promote your project, connecting to funding sources, recruiting volunteers and providing those much needed letters of support for your application. Each one of our Ambassadors created at least one unique relationship with another organizations outside of GTECH and their local CDC (the Hilltop Alliance). Gordon (not pictured) built relationships with the Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council as well as Voices Against Violence  to help support  and program his Garden on Gearing project.

Suzanne is collaborating with with her local neighborhood block watch .


So how did following this advice fair for our Ambassadors today? We are happy to say that all three designs presented to the Art Commission Board today were approved and will be installed this spring and summer thanks to their hard work.

Have you presented to the Art Commission or navigated a civic process before?  Share your tips below.



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