Guidelines for Temporary Artwork on Metro Property

Metro Public Art positions public art as a community investment tool for neighborhood transformation, creative workforce development and equitable practices throughout the city. 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 safe and appropriate by Metro.

· If the proposed temporary artwork site is a roadway, only secondary streets with low to moderate vehicular and pedestrian traffic may be activated. Approval will not be granted for project sites that involve heavily trafficked intersections, or connectors or major roadways, or any other site condition that causes a safety concern or conflicts with Metro standards for safety in the roadway.

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 on Metro Property application with basic information about the design concept, artist, community involvement process, materials, funding, maintenance, and removal. Metro Arts will review and provide a recommendation regarding the temporary artwork project to the applicant and the Metro department with oversight of the proposed site.

Once Metro Arts provides approval, it is the applicant’s responsibility to secure appropriate permits from Metro Public Works and final approval from the Metro Department with oversight of the proposed artwork site before installation begins. Please note that, with the exception of funds awarded through its competitively awarded grant and funding programs and Percent for Art program, Metro does not provide financial or staff support for temporary art projects on Metro property. Project sponsors must cover all costs associated with the project, including maintenance and removal of artwork at the agreed upon removal date.

For the purposes of this policy, temporary is defined as an installation period of one month to 18 months. Projects must involve a full-time stewardship entity that will also be the permit holder. Permits may be extended, at the discretion of Metro Arts, for projects that are in good condition and whose stewards have fulfilled their obligations and pledge to continue to do so.

Criteria for Approval of Temporary Artworks

Applicants are expected to clearly demonstrate that the proposed artwork is feasible to create and that it will enhance the public’s experience of the site where it is placed. The placement of temporary artwork on public property is not an entitlement allowed for every proposal. Artwork will be evaluated for suitability and approved only when it meets:

A successful application also requires:

  •  Artist and project applicant reside in the Nashville/Davidson county area
  •  Artwork is created by a professional artist who is fairly compensated
  • Demonstration of qualified project coordinators and/or artist(s) to lead the project
  • Artwork includes a design development process that includes community outreach/engagement
  • Artwork promotes neighborhood identity or community pride
  • Artwork is generally supported by the community, as shown by responses received from the following:

Applicant is required to 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 is required.

  • If necessary, a plan for adherence to social distancing and health and safety recommendations
  • Project exhibits commitment to people who have been historically underrepresented in mainstream arts funding, discourse, leadership and resource allocation; including, but not limited to, people of color, people of all ages, differently abled people, LGBTQ people, women, and the socio-economically disadvantaged
  • Project design and components move past simple representation and addresses the unequal nature of voice, resource allocation and visibility that exist in the arts and cultural ecosystem.
  • Acknowledgement that works on Metro property or ROW may, by virtue of their location, be easily damaged; and that Metro will not be responsible for any maintenance, repair, or replacement of the artwork.

Artworks will not be approved if the design includes any of the following:

While artwork featuring text is allowable, the text must be an original, artistic element within the design. Text cannot include promotional, advertising, logos, or copywritten material

  • 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 or other safety standard.
  • Materials that are not designed for the location in which the artwork will be sited
  • Applicant neither identifies as an artist (and meets the definition of a professional artist) or identified an artist in the application

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.

Please note that Metro Arts review of proposed temporary artwork typically takes up to 90 days. 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. If the proposed temporary artwork site is a roadway, only secondary streets with low to moderate vehicular and pedestrian traffic may be activated. Approval will not be granted for project sites that involve heavily trafficked intersections, connectors or major roadways. 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: (Please note that general liability insurance is a requirement of the ROW permit.)

Installation, Safety, Maintenance and Removal

  • Metro does not accept ownership of said artwork nor accept any responsibility maintenance, repair, or replacement of artwork.
  • 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.
  • If artwork is tagged with graffiti or damaged within the time period approved in the Temporary Artwork agreement, applicant should abate the damage as soon as possible. The applicant has seven (7) business days from notification to abate graffiti and 30 days from notification to repair any other damage. If repairs are not timely made, Metro reserves the right to paint over the portion of the artwork where the damage occurred or remove the artwork entirely.
  • Metro reserves the absolute right to have the applicant 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.


  1. Applicant submits application form and required attachments to Metro via online form.
  2. Metro departmental representatives review based upon project criteria that includes artistic quality, feasibility of the suggested artwork location, existing operational or maintenance concerns and safety. Metro staff make recommendations for approval/disapproval or approval with conditions.
  3. Metro’s Public Art Committee reviews applications advanced by Metro staff. The review criteria include quality and durability of artwork, aesthetics, context, evidence of strong community engagement.
  4. Metro Departments may have procedural review boards in place that may also require review and approval of application, i.e. Metro Parks Board. Metro staff will advise applicant of procedure in these cases.
  5. If approved, applicant/artist to install artwork must obtain any other required permits before installation can begin.
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