Public Art Program

The Public Art Program aims to strengthen Asheville’s identity as a work of art and support the vibrancy of the creative sector that calls Asheville home.

Asheville’s identity is largely built on its wealth of memorable places, its rich cultural heritage, and the excellent arts, crafts and maker community that exists here today. The private and not for profit arts leaders- not to mention the artists themselves- in this community are leading the way; the City of Asheville’s role is to help the community have a high quality of life by increasing opportunities for arts and culture to be part of the public realm. We especially want to increase the levels of participation and representation from members of our BIPOC and LGBTQ communities, who are still underrepresented in our current public art collection, and in the past, have been underrepresented on our Public Art and Culture Commission.


Current Projects and Opportunities 


Art Deco Masterpiece Redesign –

Part of the Urban Trail

Semifinalists are working on proposals and will present to the artists selection panel the week of June 17. A finalist for the project will be announced soon after. 

  • View the Call for Artists and learn more about the project here





Projects Underway 


Public Art at the Broadway Public Safety Station

The City built a new, environmentally conscious (LEED certified) Public Safety Station just north of downtown at 316 Broadway Street (the 5 Points neighborhood, near UNCA). An Uncoupling Ceremony (Ribbon Cutting) was held at the new station on Thursday, December 14, 2023.

The station includes 3 bays, living quarters for firefighters, an office and other spaces to support fire station functions, the city’s emergency operations center, police office space, and a small multipurpose room. 

The station will be LEED certified and will be the seventh facility to include onsite renewable energy production. The solar array will produce approximately 77,386 kilowatt hours per year, enough electricity to power 7 homes. You can monitor the solar energy production of this site here.

*Update: the station will also host a new piece of public artwork, a playable harp, to be installed in 2024.


Jake Rusher
Site plan for updates at Jake Rusher park in south Asheville

Playful Art for Jake Rusher Park

The community worked with artist Becky Borlan on the design and installation of a playable piece of art at Jake Rusher Park. See former Public Art and Culture Commission member Ali McGhee’s write up on this park and the project here.

*Update: after some modifications to the original design, on-site construction and reinstallation of the playable artwork is scheduled for May 2024.




History of the Public Art Program

Starting in the 1970s, people noticed that Asheville had very little public art compared to other cities around the country. As an outgrowth of the downtown streetscape program, the idea for a walking trail was explored over 2 years beginning in 1988. When the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation funded a small grant for a design charrette in 1990, the Urban Trail Committee was formed soon thereafter, composed of volunteers, professionals, and content experts with support by City Staff. They developed a walking art trail highlighting historically important people, architecture, places, and events within Downtown Asheville. Completion of the original phase of the Urban Trail was celebrated in May 2002. The Urban Trail became an Asheville treasure and helped show citizens what public art could do for our community.

In November of 1998, a group of eighteen concerned citizens came together to form the Public Art Working Group. Many meetings and a great deal of research later, City Council adopted the City’s first Public Art Policy. A newly established Public Art Board started meeting in May of 2000.


Asheville Public Art Program Components

The primary components of the City of Asheville’s Public Art Program are the Public Art Master Plan, the Percent for Public Art Policy, the Public Art and Culture Commission, the Public Art Collection, Public Art Program Administration, and Current Projects.


Public Art Master Plan

The Public Art Master Plan (PAMP) was completed in 2000 and re-adopted in November, 2008. Our community has changed significantly since this plan was created. Updating the plan is the top priority of the Public Art and Cultural Commission.

Public Art Master Plan


Public Art and Culture Commission

The Public Art and Culture Commission (PACC) is responsible for promoting public art creation and public art maintenance in the public buildings and public spaces within Asheville, North Carolina.

Regular PACC meetings will be in-person in City Hall’s first floor conference room (70 Court Plaza) from 4 to 5 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month. All meetings will be live streamed on the City’s YouTube Channel and the Public Art and Culture Commission’s Public Input Page.


The Public Art Collection

As you explore Asheville, you’ll see a number of sculptures and other pieces of art: The “Energy Loop”, the Deco Gecko in Pritchard Park, the murals in the City Hall chambers, the bronze life-size sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr. at MLK Park, and the more than 30 sculptures and plaques along the Urban Trail are all part of Asheville’s public art collection.

Information About the Urban Trail
Map of Urban Trail and Public Art Collection

The Public Art Collection inventory is currently being updated.


Public Art Administration

The City supports arts and culture initiatives as a strategy for wealth creation and the enhancement of place.  The Strategic Design and Development division’s work includes advising on the City of Asheville’s investments in public art and place-making, promoting and implementing the goals of the Public Art Master Plan, and administering the City’s Percent for Public Art policy.  We work across departments and with designers, producers, developers, businesses and artists in the public to get the community the public spaces they need to thrive.


Place Partners

Have an idea about a public artwork that our community would benefit from having installed temporarily (and terms are renewable)?  This program- aka Place Partners- provides a process for organizations to initiate temporary enhancements in city-managed spaces (city properties, sidewalks and streets/right of ways) in Asheville.  The program is intended to enable placekeeping and making via temporary installations such as public art, community amenities and other enhancements that contribute to the spirit and character of Asheville and align with City Council’s 2036 Vision. Find details here. 


Project Archive


Artists’ work -which included interactive performance, sculpture, mixed media, and other styles- was installed in Pack Square Plaza, the heart of downtown Asheville, as a way to spark community engagement for the Pack Square Plaza Visioning and Improvements project. The works supported important conversations on how to ensure our public spaces reflect Asheville’s diverse community and history.

For more information on the program, the artists and their projects, visit Art in the Heart’s project page on the City’s website.










Contact Information

Karli Stephenson // 828-259-5627