“Metro Arts” is the office of Arts & Culture for the city of Nashville and Davidson County. We believe that arts drive a more vibrant and equitable community. We strive to ensure that all Nashvillians have access to a creative life through community investments, artist and organizational training, public art and creative placemaking coordination and direct programs that involve residents in all forms of arts and culture.
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Guidelines for Temporary Artwork
Metro Nashville values artistic and cultural activation through public art. With prior approval and agreement, Metro allows artists, or organizations who are working with a professional artist(s), to install artworks on Metro property including publicly-accessible spaces within and around buildings, in parks and other open spaces, and along streets and roadway features which may include sidewalks, retaining walls, bridges, bike paths, e-signal box covers, or other locations deemed appropriate by Metro.
Artists or organizations proposing any temporary artwork for Metro property, including those in the Metro right-of-way (ROW), are required to submit a Temporary Artworks application. If approved, Metro Arts will issue an agreement outlining the terms and conditions agreed to by both Metro and the applicant.
An agreement, appropriate permits and written approval of the final temporary artwork design must be obtained before installation begins. Metro reviews and approves artwork design, materials, and process, and shall also have the final determination on where the temporary artwork can be located. Please note that, with the exception of funds awarded through its grant programs and Percent for Art program, Metro Arts does not provide financial or staff support for temporary art projects. Project sponsors must cover all costs associated with the project, including maintenance.
For the purposes of this policy, temporary is defined as an installation period of one month to 18 months. Consideration for permanent artworks on Metro property must comply with the Donated Artworks policy and its application process. Please note that Metro review of temporary artwork typically takes up to 90 days while review of permanent artwork requires approvals by several committees and boards and may take up to 6 months.
Criteria for Approval of Artwork
Artworks must demonstrate feasibility and enhance the public’s experience of the site where the artwork is placed. Artworks will not be approved if the design includes any of the following:
- Inappropriate or offensive images or words
- Messages appearing to advertise or promote a commercial entity (corporation or for-profit business) (If it does, a sign permit may be required.)
- Promotion of an organization or non-profit entity (If it does, a sign permit may be required.)
- Driver distractions or anything that could be confused with traffic control devices
- Materials that are not designed for the location in which the artwork will be sited
Related Permits and Other Approvals
Right-of-way (ROW) refers to sidewalks, streetscapes and areas not managed by another department of Metro including Parks, Libraries, or General Services. Sidewalks, bridges and streetscapes connected to state routes may require Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) approval, which is not part of this application process and not under the purview of Metro.
In addition to the Temporary Artwork agreement, applicants may be required to obtain a permit from Public Works for any activity occurring in the ROW. This may include temporary sidewalk or traffic lane closures. Physical structures (sculptures or objects) planned to be located in the ROW will require an encroachment approval which can take up to 90 days. Encroachment permits must be approved by ordinance (three readings before the Metropolitan Council). An artwork with an underground foundation also requires an excavation permit. Complete details and requirements related to Public Works permits can be found here: http://www.nashville.gov/Public-Works/Permits.aspx (Please note that general liability insurance is a requirement of the ROW permit.)
Applicant must notify, in writing, any abutting property owners (street, road, alley or ROW or fee owner of easement) and the council member representing the proposed location of such artwork before Metro approval and agreement may be executed. Documentation of such communications may be required.
Installation, Safety, and Maintenance Requirements
- Metro does not accept ownership of said artwork nor accept any responsibility for future maintenance. Any on-site liability of the artwork or installation of artwork is assumed by the applicant/artist.
- No artwork can obstruct public access or violate the provisions of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Any artwork applied on a sidewalk must be made of an anti-skid material. The material must comply with the ADA.
- All artwork materials—such as paint, adhesive and other materials—should be designed for use in the proposed location and on the surface(s) to which it will be applied. Metro reserves the right to review and approve any materials or installation methods.
- The applicant shall clean and prime surfaces prior to the application of materials unless this requirement is specifically waived in the agreement.
- Paint and other materials shall be applied according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Vinyl wraps must be professionally installed.
- Ventilation channels on utility boxes shall not be covered with paint or other materials.
- Anti-graffiti coatings are encouraged. Removal of graffiti often results in the removal of the anti-graffiti coating as well so it may need to be reapplied.
- If artwork is tagged with graffiti or damaged within the time period approved in the Temporary Artwork agreement, Metro will contact the applicant to repair. The applicant has three (3) days from notification to abate graffiti and 30 days from notification to repair any other damage. If graffiti is not removed within three (3) days, Metro reserves the right to paint over the portion of the artwork where the graffiti is located.
- Metro reserves the absolute right to alter, relocate, or remove from public display any artwork if it is determined in the sole discretion of Metro that the artwork poses a safety hazard, interferes with the flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic, creates a maintenance problem, interferes with public service or other activities in adjacent areas or is otherwise inappropriate for the site.
- If the Metro-owned property including but not limited to, utility boxes, retaining walls, sidewalks, etc. requires repair or replacement—in part or whole—while the artwork is in place, there is no obligation on the part of Metro to replace, repair or reinstall the artwork. However, Metro will make a reasonable good faith effort to notify the applicant and provide an opportunity for consultation regarding the removal or relocation of artwork, should that be possible.
Removal and Repair of the Artwork
- Metro reserves the absolute right to alter, relocate, or remove from public display any artwork if it is determined in the sole discretion of Metro that the artwork poses a safety hazard, interferes with the flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic, creates a maintenance problem, interferes with public services or other activities in adjacent areas or is otherwise inappropriate for the site.
- If the Metro-owned property including, but not limited to, utility boxes, retaining walls, sidewalks, etc. requires repair or replacement—in part or whole—while the artwork is in place, there is no obligation on the part of Metro to replace, repair, or reinstall the artwork. However, Metro will make a reasonable good faith effort to notify the applicant and provide an opportunity for consultation regarding the removal or relocation of the artwork, should that be possible.
- Applicant/artist submits application form and required attachments to Metro Arts via Submittable.
- Metro Arts reviews in collaboration with affected Metro Departments.
- Departmental staff makes joint recommendation for approval or disapproval to the Public Art Committee who will review based on quality and durability of artwork, aesthetics, context, evidence of strong community engagement and vicinity to existing public artworks. Metro Departments will review based upon availability of the suggested artwork location, existing operational or maintenance concerns and safety. Metro Departments may have procedural review boards in place that may also require review and approval of application, i.e. Metro Parks Board. Metro Arts will advise applicant of procedure in these cases.
- If approved, applicant/artist to install artwork must submit signed agreement form and obtain any other required permits before installation can begin.
Grant Review Panelist: Metro Arts seeks volunteers to serve as grant application reviewers. No experience required. We provide sufficient orientation so all panelists may serve confidently. Panelists review all submitted application materials online, attend required orientation and review meetings, and score each grant application. Scores are averaged and used to help Metro Arts determine grant awards.
Public Art Selection Panelist: A public art Selection Panel is comprised of artists, community and business representatives, architects, landscape architects and other design professionals and Metro representatives. These panels review submissions for public art projects and makes recommendations to the Public Art Committee.
Metro Arts strives to form selection panels that are diverse and appropriate to the specific project or program. Though voluntary, the demographic data and resume upload included in this form will assist Metro Arts in accomplishing this goal.
Metro Arts looks for individuals who are thoughtful, willing to listen to others' opinions and are able to represent a specific viewpoint that is relevant to the public art project. Self nominations are welcome.
Panelist Eligibility Criteria:
Every Metro Arts panelist must work or live in Davidson County, have a keen interest in the arts (as an artist, participant, audience member, donor, educator, etc.), and must not be an employee of Metro government (including Metro Nashville Public Schools) or any applicant organization. All panelists must declare real or perceived conflicts of interests in advance.
When Metro Arts assembles a review panel, we:
1. seek to achieve diversity among panelists in age, race/cultural identity, council district residency, physical abilities, personal and professional interests, expertise, etc.;
2. trust all panelists to honestly declare all applicant-related real or perceived conflicts as soon as they become aware that a conflict exists;
3. expect all panelists to take the review process seriously and honor their commitment to serve as instructed;
4. recruit panel members who truly care about the arts in our community, as non-artists or artists.
Please understand that not all recommendations will be used.
Metro recently adopted an ordinance and guidelines for the purpose of evaluating potential donated artworks. This policy plans for the fact that there are limited suitable sites on public property for placement of donated artworks and limited public funds for maintenance and conservation of donated artworks. Each artwork will be evaluated by the Public Art Committee and the Metro Arts Commission in addition to the Metro Department accepting the donation.
In order for Metro to evaluate donations, donors are required to provide information about the artwork donation via Submittable at least six (6) months prior to the anticipated donation acceptance date. You may also download the donor checklist/worksheet to assist in the process of gathering information about your artwork.
***PLEASE NOTE** Donations of artwork that require the city to pay for costs such as installation, transportation, site preparation or repair are not encouraged. Artwork requiring high or excessive maintenance may be declined.
Ordinance No. BL2015-1277 "D. Unless the metropolitan council has appropriated funding specifically for the installation and maintenance costs for the donated artwork, a donor’s proposal shall include funding adequate to cover all costs for the design, fabrication, insurance, transportation, storage, installation, and maintenance of the proposed artwork for a period of ten years from the date of acceptance, plus contingency funds for reasonable unforeseen circumstances."
See "FY21 Restorative Arts Guidelines" under the "Restorative Arts Section" at:
Commissioners, panelists, and financial reviewers are obligated to abide by the Metro Government Ethics Policy. Each participant in the grant review and allocation process is required annually to identify all organizations with which he, she, or a member of their immediate family is currently associated as an employee or board member. This information is kept on file at the Metro Arts office.