Athens Cultural Affairs Commission Recommended Arts and Culture Policy for Athens Clarke County


The intent of the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission (ACAC) Arts and Culture Policy is to:

  • Foster the development and enjoyment of performing, visual, musical, literary arts and other cultural activities in the Athens-Clarke County community;
  • Foster cooperation between Unified Government departments and other advisory commissions to include an art and/or cultural element in as many areas of ACCUG planning and development as possible.
  • Develop a program that contributes to and enhances community identity and pride.
  • Provide the highest quality cultural experience and artwork available.
  • Encourage a broader base of public participation and interaction with public spaces.
  • Enrich the public environment for both residents and visitors through the inclusion of cultural experiences and artworks.
  • Stimulate the local economy and job growth as a boon to tourism and economic development in Athens-Clarke County.
  • Make recommendations to the Mayor and Commission on development and promotion of practices and policies pertaining to public arts.


With its commitment to the highest aesthetic standards and the broadest involvement of artists and cultural activities, the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission will endeavor to:

  • Increase public awareness, understanding, and enjoyment of the arts and culture in everyday life, and provide equitable and accessible opportunities for Athens-Clarke County’s residents and visitors to experience public art.
  • Encourage public dialogue about art and cultural issues of interest and concern to Athens-Clarke County residents.
  • Facilitate communication and collaboration with area arts and culture organizations;
  • Encourage arts and culture education to students of all ages.


The purpose and intent of these goals and policies relating to public art are to encourage public art projects that work toward achieving a more sustainable community, environmentally, economically, socially, and culturally. They are also set out as a guide for direct implementation of the Athens Cultural Affairs ordinance relating to public art as adopted by the Mayor and Commission.

Specifically, it is the goal of the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission to:

  • Engage the local community and educate the public about public art and the commissioning of artworks;
  • Provide avenues for expressing that which is unique to communities;
  • Select and recommend artists from the region and elsewhere to contribute to the overall planning and urban design of the community and its infrastructure, as well as to planning efforts at state/ regional/national levels  that affect the community when appropriate and feasible;
  • Demonstrate and recognize the unique spirit of the community and self-regard of the citizens of UGACC by commissioning and/or acquiring artworks that directly respond to the vitality of the region and its diverse  cultural heritage;
  • Commission artists to explore new concepts in public art, create new works, reach new audiences, and to present their work side-by-side with the work of other nationally recognized public artists;
  • Develop a Public Art Master Plan, direct public art projects, and ensure the proper maintenance and cataloging of the public art inventory;
  • Facilitate communication and collaboration with area arts organizations;
  • Recommend capital construction appropriations for public art from capital construction projects, SPLOST initiatives and the pooled Public Art Project Account.

A. Artist: A practitioner in the visual arts, of serious intent and recognized ability, who produces artwork.
B. Art services: Professional services by artists to develop designs for artwork or other architectural, landscape or urban design elements, either individually or as a member of a project design team.
C. Artists’ Registry: A local, regional, national and international digital collection of artists and artworks used as a resource for art, art activities and for the public art selection process.
D. Artplace: Art that adds to the distinction of a place, such as a plaza, or the incorporation of art into the design element of light standards, walkways, bridges or other improvement projects.
E. Artwork: Tangible creations in all forms, media or combination thereof created by or under the direction of one or more artists, whether two or three dimensional, existing in a single copy or in a limited edition, that is not massed produced or a commercial representation or logo.
F. De-accessioning: The removal, re-location, selling or trading of artworks owned by the Unified Government of Athens Clarke County.
G. Donations (and gifts): Artworks donated to the Unified Government of Athens Clarke County from a private individual or institution and/or other outside sources.
H. Loan: Artworks provided to the Unified Government of Athens Clarke County for its use for a period of time and to be returned to the owner after the loan period expires.
I. Major Artwork: A highly visible or significant artwork that is important for historical, cultural or community identity.
J. Policy: This Public Art Policy as adopted by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission, including any future additions, deletions or revisions thereto.
K. Public Art Project: The commission, acquisition, loan or donation of artwork to the UGACC pursuant to this policy, including the process by which such event is initiated, developed, evaluated, conducted and completed.
L. Public Art: Artworks in any medium that have been reviewed against adopted and standardized criteria, approved, and formally recommended for UGACC ownership by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission  for installation or exhibition in public locations, in or on publically owned buildings, on publically owned land, or in or on other locations leased or provided to the UGACC through donation, easement or other  means.

All artwork currently owned by the UGACC acquired through any means or process and located in or on publically owned or controlled buildings or land at the adoption of this policy are, by definition, Public Art as herein defined.


All major artworks will be sited, evaluated and acquired through the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission following a standardized process that assures fairness and public input. The Commission may also make recommendations regarding other artworks as needed,

A. Site Selection:

The initial step in any public art project is the identification of an approved site for the installation of the public art. In the selection of locations for the installation of proposed public art the Athens Cultural Affairs  Commission will strive to place public art in appropriate sites throughout the community with the objective of providing quality artworks to the greatest number of citizens. The objective is to develop a worthwhile and varied  collection of artworks in the UGACC buildings, public spaces, and other appropriate spaces, whether owned or secured through long-term lease or easement, that enhances, enlivens, and enriches the community while reflecting its values.

  1. Methods of Site Determination and Acquisition
    Sites for public art may be determined, then recommended for selection in several ways, including, but not limited to, the following:
    1. The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, and or its departments, acting with the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission, dedicates a property or site to public art as an Element in new construction.
    2. The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, and or its departments, acting with the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission, chooses to designate all or a portion of a government-owned property or site for public art purposes.
    3. The legal owner(s) of a private property or other location meeting the site selection requirements may donate a Public Art Easement to the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County for placement of public art contingent upon the Unified Government accepting such easement.
    4. The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission may solicit the donation of private property for the display of public art.
    5. The Athens Cultural Arts Commission shall develop a Public Art Master Plan which indicates existing and potential sites, in consultation with appropriate United Government Departments (e.g. Planning, Public Works, etc.) which may be updated as needed.
  2. Site Selection Criteria
    Once a site for public art installation is selected according to one of the methods under section 3.2.1., the following criteria should be considered:
    1. For public art proposed within the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County right-of-way, the location has been reviewed and accepted by the Transportation and Public Works Director, or other individual as identified by the Manager, who may establish reasonable site limitations on the installation to assure public safety or other public needs.
    2. The location satisfies the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission’s objective of art throughout all areas of the county.
    3. The location is visible and/or generally accessible to the public.
    4. The location provides adequate lighting, if appropriate, to view the art or there is a binding commitment to assure that such can be provided.
    5. The location, including the surface or structure upon which the art is to be placed is both sound and in good repair, or there is a binding commitment to assure that it is made so.
    6. Reasonable security from vandalism/theft can be provided as part of the project design.
    7. Reasonable protection from the elements is available at the site, or the artwork selection will be limited to materials appropriate for the site.
    8. Maintenance and insurance considerations have been addressed.

B. Art Selection:

Assuring the highest quality of aesthetic experience for the citizens of Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County is the primary criterion for selection of public art. The objective is to develop a worthwhile and  varied collection of artwork in the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County buildings, public spaces, and other appropriate spaces secured through long-term lease or easement. In commissioning or accepting public art, the following general criteria should be considered:

  1. Art Selection Criteria
    1. Media: All art forms and materials will be considered.
    2. Style: Artwork reflecting any school, movement, method or style will be considered.
    3. Range: Artwork may be functional or non-functional; conceptual or tangible; portable or site-specific.
    4. Character: Artworks must be appropriate in scale, media, style, and content to the project and environment to which they will relate.
    5. Permanence: Consideration should be given to structural and surface integrity and to the use of materials appropriate to the location so as to minimize or eliminate maintenance or repair costs.
    6. Public Safety/Liability: Artworks and art places must be free of unsafe conditions or other factors bearing on public liability.
    7. Diversity: In selecting works, the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County will strive for diversity, reflecting the social, ethnic and cultural fabric of the community.
  2. Methods of Acquisition
    Artwork may be acquired by purchase, commission, donation, or by contract with the artist as part of a design team. Standard methods of acquisition include:
    1. Limited Competition: All artists are welcome to apply, subject to limitations established by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission
    2. Open Competition: All artists are welcome to apply, subject to limitations established by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission.
    3. Artist Invitation: Based on reputation and experience, an artist or art team is invited by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission and requested to develop a proposal. In such a situation the Athens  Cultural Affairs Commission may recommend compensation to the artist or art team for the proposal, if determined appropriate.
    4. Direct Purchase: The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission may recommend purchasing a piece of existing art, from a gallery or dealer, from a private individual, or from the artist directly.
    5. Donation: Triggered by a citizen offer to contribute artwork to the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission will review the work in terms of whether it satisfies the stated criteria for artwork and whether a suitable and appropriate site exists to exhibit the artwork. All donations must be approved for acceptance by the Unified Government through its Donation Policy.

C. Artist and Artwork Selection:

  1. Artists will be chosen on the basis of their qualifications and probability of successful completion of the project. Emphasis will be on regional artists whenever possible.
  2. Artwork will be original work completed by the submitting artist. The following criteria govern the selection of public art in Athens-Clarke County and will be utilized during the process of Athens Cultural Affairs Commission review, selection and approval of public art.
    1. Artistic Quality and Originality: The strength and originality and creativity of the artist’s concept and demonstrated skill or craftsmanship.
    2. Context: The appropriateness of the concept within the proposed architectural, geographical, socio-cultural, and historical context, including use of appropriate scale and materials for the site.
    3. Diversity: Issues related to race, age, style, media of the art within the context.
    4. Feasibility: Budget, timeline and probability of success.
    5. Design & Construction: Issues related to fabrication of the installation, its durability, resistance to vandalism, long-term maintenance issues and weather performance.
    6. Support: Demonstrated community agreement/support for the project.
    7. Public Safety: Does not pose a threat to public safety.

D. General Ownership of Public Artworks:

  1. Artwork(s) purchased, commissioned or accepted as a donation by the Unified Government shall be the property of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County.
  2. The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County intends that the artwork shall remain accessible to public viewing for as long as the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County is responsible for the works of art.
  3. The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County retains the right to de-accession works of art it no longer desires to retain as a component of the public art program per section F2, The De-accessioning of Artwork.

E. Donations & Loans of Artwork:

The community of Athens-Clarke County encourages donations of works of art for public places. When gifts or donations of major artworks are proposed for placement in any agency, department or community  space, the proposal shall first be reviewed by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission in collaboration with the Department as a “Recipient”, and then recommended to the Mayor and Commission or the Manager in  accordance with UGACC ACCUG Donations Acceptance

Policy. This procedure shall apply to works of art proposed for gifts and loans to the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County.

  1. Procedure for Donating or Loaning Artworks.
    1. The donor discusses the nature of the gift and ACCUG procedures with the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission and the receiving agency or department.
    2. The receiving agency or department assists the donor in prepares preparing and sends a “Donation Assessment Questionnaire” with an image attachment for submittal to Central Services ACCUG who will forward it to the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission for review and comments.
    3. The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission reviews the donor’s proposal according to the “Criteria for Donated or Loaned Artwork.”
    4. The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission makes recommendations of acceptance or non-acceptance. Before making a recommendation to accept, the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission may request further or more detailed information to be considered at additional review sessions and/or it may attach conditions to its recommendation of acceptance.
    5. The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County shall accept permanent donated artworks only when accompanied by a legal instrument of conveyance of title, enumerating any conditions of the gift that the Unified Government has agreed to accept, and the appropriate warranty of originality. In general, gifts shall be accepted without restrictions as to future use or disposition. The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission shall forward copies of the conveyance of title and stated insurance value for donated artwork(s) to the appropriate Unified Government departments, document the artwork(s) and assign an accession number.
  2. Criteria for Donated or Loaned Artwork
    The following criteria should be considered when reviewing artwork that has been offered for donation or loan:
    1. Aesthetic.
      1. Written proposal with detailed description of artwork, sketches and/or model of the artwork and photos.
      2. Qualifications and other pertinent information regarding the artist, as presented in artist’s resume, plus appropriate publicity materials.
      3. Warranty of originality of an existing artwork (only original works or limited editions shall be considered.)
      4. Provenance for an existing artwork.
    2. Financial.
      1. All costs associated with fabrication and installation. This includes site preparation, plaque and unveiling/dedication event, if any.
      2. Source of funding and date funds are available
      3. Estimated annual operation and maintenance costs and their funding source(s).
      4. Statement of value of the artwork for insurance purposes.
      5. Revenues generated by any collateral material other than that used for educational purposes.
    3. Safety and Maintenance.
      1. Susceptibility of the artwork to normal wear and to vandalism.
      2. Potential dangers to the public.
      3. Special insurance requirements.
      4. Hold harmless agreement (for loaned artwork only) in favor of the County addressing damage that may occur to the loaned art object.
    4. Environmental.
      1. Appropriateness to the site, both specific and general.
      2. Scale, form, content, color, and design of artwork in relation to the site.
      3. Impact to environment.
      4. Text components (i.e., signage or plaques)
    5. Timeliness.
      1. Allowance of sufficient time for normal review process by the Athens Cultural Arts Commission and other agencies or departments involved.
      2. Timely and appropriate response to committee and staff requests for additional materials or information.
    6. Liability
      1. Susceptibility of the artwork(s) to normal wear and to vandalism.
      2. Potential risk to public.
      3. Public access.
      4. Special insurance requirements.
    7. Special Conditions.
      1. Any conditions of the gift or loan imposed by the donor.
      2. Donations or loans that contain advertising will not be considered.
  3. Exceptions to the Donations & Loans Procedure.
    1. Exhibitions of 90 days or less: Any artwork or exhibition of artworks to be displayed on Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County property for 90 days or less will not be subject to the above  outlined review process. Review and approval will be the responsibility of the department or agency with jurisdiction over the space involved.
    2. Gifts of State: Gifts of State (artwork) presented to Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County by foreign governments (municipal, state or national) may be accepted by the Mayor or City/County  Manager on behalf of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County in accordance with its own acceptance policies. Appropriate placement shall be determined jointly by the Mayor’s or City/County Manager’s Offices, orACCUG after receiving recommendations from the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission. Appropriate recognition and publicity shall be the responsibility of the  department or agency with jurisdiction over the placement site.ACCUG.

F. Inventory:

  1. Accessioning of Artwork.
    The following process shall be followed in accessioning artwork:
    1. Assign accession number according to an appropriate numbering plan.
    2. Complete documentation of the artwork and incorporate it into the Public Art Inventory in the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission office.
  2. The De-accessioning of Artwork. The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission shall review the entire public art collection at least once every ten-year period to assess condition; however, it may recommend that de-accessing of specific artworks be done on a case-by-case basis at any time.
    1. The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission may recommend any of the following courses of action as a result of de-accessioning review:
      1. Relocate artwork;
      2. Sell or trade artwork (secure professional appraisal and advertise sale; seek competitive bids; dispose of work);
      3. Remove work from display and store;
      4. If no other alternative is evident, remove and permanently dispose of artwork. Disposal should first include return to the artist or donor, then donation to charity or other government entity.
    2. Artists whose work is under consideration for de-accessioning shall be notified by reasonable means, to include written notification by registered mail, and shall have the right of first refusal to purchase  the artwork(s) or reclaim the artwork(s) if purchase is not required.
  3. Collection Management The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission shall ensure the proper cataloging of public art inventory, to include at least the following information on each artwork belonging to the Unified Government:
    1. Accession number and date
    2. Artwork title and/or description (at least type and media)
    3. Pictures from three different angles (slide and digital)
    4. Site address, description
    5. Artist name, contact information
    6. Contract with artist (if existing), and project management records (including budget, correspondence, etc.)
    7. Maintenance & Conservation requirements and records
    8. De-accession information (as needed)

G. Funding:

Funding for purchase or commission of specific works of public art or the development of any base funding process is required prior to the initiation of a public art project. Such funding may be developed through  the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County budget process, grant, or fund-raising activities, private or corporate donations, SPLOST initiatives, or the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County’s Public  Art Project Account monies in accordance with its rules.

H. Contractual Considerations:

  1. Unified Government of Athens Clarke County responsibilities include:
    1. Maintenance of public artworks and art places shall be the responsibility of the Unified Government, not the artist, and the Unified Government shall commit to a regular maintenance schedule.
    2. Repairs, restoration and/or conservation shall be the responsibility of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, and the Unified Government shall reserve the right to perform maintenance or  make minor and/or emergency repairs without consulting the artist(s), provided this work is done according to maintenance and materials information provided by the artist(s) at the time of  acquisition.
    3. In general, the artist may retain copyright and other intellectual property rights in and to the final design and the final artistic work itself. However, if the artist retains the copyright, he shall grant to the  Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County a perpetual, irrevocable license to graphically reproduce, depict or display the final artistic work for any non-commercial and/or promotional purpose  whatsoever.
    4. When a work of visual art is incorporated in or made part of a Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County-owned building in such a way that removing the work from the building will cause the  destruction, distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work, the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County shall not destroy, remove, move, replace, transport or transfer, in whole or in  part, the final artistic work unless the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County deems it necessary to exercise its powers and responsibilities in regard to public works and improvements, in  furtherance of its operations, or unless the artwork poses an immediate danger or public safety risk.
    5. When an artwork is acquired by the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County under the auspices of the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission, and the artwork is a painting, drawing, print or  sculpture, or a photographic image created for exhibition purposes only, existing in a single copy, or in signed, consecutively numbered limited editions of no more than 200 copies, and the artwork  either is not an integral part of a Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County owned facility or is part of a Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County facility but can be reasonably removed  without distortion, mutilation or other modification, the artist shall have the right to: 1) prevent any intentional distortion, mutilation or other modification of the artwork that would be prejudicial to  the artist’s reputation, or 2) prevent destruction of the work when it is of recognized stature. The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County shall make a diligent, good faith effort to notify the artist  of the intended action affecting the artwork by providing such notice in writing to the artist by registered mail before proceeding with its plans.
    6. At the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County’s option, an artist or collaborative team involved with creating an artwork or art place may coordinate construction/fabrication, installation or  application of designs or concepts when carried out by third parties. This will ensure the quality and design control specified by the artist(s), who shall have the right to provide  specifications/qualifications for the fabricators. However, this coordination must be managed through the appropriate construction management personnel when the artwork is an integral part of the construction/renovation project. Artist coordination for installation, fabrication or application of artwork should not result in delays to the construction schedules. Any material delays to construction  schedules must be approved by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission and the director of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County department responsible for construction.
  2. Artist responsibilities include: If selected for a commissioned artwork by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission the artist will:
    1. Warrant that:
      1. The artwork, art place or art concept is the result of the artist’s personal creative efforts, except in the case of design collaboration.
      2. The art is unique and original and does not infringe upon any copyright or other intellectual property right.
      3. The art or a duplicate has not been accepted for sale elsewhere, unless clearly acquired as part of a limited edition.
      4. The art is free and clear of any liens.
      5. The execution and fabrication of the art will be performed in a professional manner, with professional grade materials.
      6. The art as fabricated and installed will be free of defects in material and craftsmanship, including, but not limited to, any defects constituting “inherent vice” or qualities which cause or accelerate  deterioration.
      7. Reasonable maintenance of the art will not require procedures or materials substantially in excess of those described in the maintenance recommendations submitted by the artist(s).
      8. For exterior installations, the artwork complies with maintenance standards.
    2. Sign and abide by the terms stated within a personal services contract with the UGACC ACCUG includes the following provisions:
      1. Artist retains all rights and interest in the artwork except for rights of property ownership and possession, as passed to the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County upon final acceptance.
      2. Artist retains all rights under the Copyright Act of 1976. The artist, however, agrees not to make an exact duplicate of the work or permit others to do so, except by written permission of the  Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County.
      3. Artist grants to the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County an irrevocable license to make two-dimensional reproductions for promotional purposes. The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County agrees to give artist appropriate credit on all such materials, including copyright symbol, name of artist, title of piece and date of completion.
    3. Execute and complete the work in a timely and professional manner.
    4. Maintain an effective working relationship with the project team and staff.
    5. Advise the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission immediately of any significant changes to the scope, materials or design of the work after contract is signed (all changes must be reviewed and approved  prior to completion, in accordance with the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County requirements).
    6. Be responsible for all design and execution of the work, excluding site preparation and installation, unless otherwise stipulated in the contract.
    7. Provide written maintenance guidelines, including recommended products, where appropriate, to guide Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County staff in the long-term care of the artwork.