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1% for Art

Realizing “1% for Art” in Japan

The Japan Traffic Culture Association (JPTCA) is making various efforts to realize the “1% for Art” legislation. We believe that Japan should build a nation based on culture and the arts, and we believe that 1% will be a great driving force for the promotion of culture and the arts. In Europe and the U.S., where the “1% for Art” program has already been adopted, it has been reported that this program has fostered young artists and has been a major force in revitalizing communities and economies based on art.

What is 1% for Art?

“1% for Art” is an idea that 1% of the cost of a public spending (building, bridge, construction, park etc.) should be spent on art related to or associated with that building. The roots of this idea go back to the pre-war days in the U.S. In the 1930s, the U.S. government adopted New Deal policies to overcome the Great Depression. As a part of this policy, the U.S. government allotted about 1% of the public construction budget to artists who were struggling and losing their jobs, and ordered them to decorate buildings, public spaces and parks. This continued for about 10 years until 1943.

After the war, the “1% for Art” program was first introduced in Europe, not as an employment measure, but as a way to promote culture and art. The U.S. and Canada followed suit, and now, in Asia, South Korea and Taiwan have legislated it.

The funds from the 1% for Art program are allocated to public art to decorate public buildings and spaces, therefore 1% for Art and public art are two wheels in a cart. The amount varies from 1% or more to 0.5% or less depending on the country or municipality, but it is called “1% for Art” for its symbolic meaning. In some countries, the arts related to the building are not limited to art, but also include theater, dance, and other performances, as in the United States.


Why do we need “1% for Art”?

Hisao Taki

Why do we need “1% for Art”?

Hisao Taki

President, Japan Transport Culture Association (JPTCA)

Since the end of World War II, Japan has long been an economy-first nation, prioritizing growth and efficiency. However, with the maturation of Japanese society, the mass consumption of goods and money has come to an end, and people’s attention has begun to shift to a more relaxed, slower pace of life and a focus on “events” rather than “things. Words such as “work style reform,” “work-life balance,” “ikumen, (Men who are good at taking care of children)” and “telework” are widely used to describe the major changes in people’s lifestyles in Japan.
It is also clear from global issues that the economic priority’s course has come to a standstill. There is the urgent need to combat global warming, ocean pollution including plastic waste, depletion of fishery resources due to overfishing, and a drastic decrease in species due to over-cutting in the Amazon and other forests. …… The list could be long. In a nutshell, the question is how to create a sustainable society.

In light of this situation at home and abroad, I believe that a new vision for the future of Japan should be based on the promotion of culture and the arts. We must build a Japan that can be called a cultural nation in both name and reality. I believe that the driving force behind this is the “1% for Art” program.
This program, which allocates 1% of the cost of public buildings to art related to the buildings, will give many young artists the opportunity to create and add value to the buildings, which in turn will have a positive effect on the urban landscape and the local environment. It will also create a place where people can have fun, revitalize the community, and improve the quality of life. It will also have a tailwind effect on the local economy by spreading to art-related industries and attracting tourists.

This “1% for Art” program is not limited to simply decorating public buildings with art. Imagine, for example, that 1% of the reconstruction budget for the Great East Japan Earthquake is allocated to culture and art.
Let’s ask famous artists from Japan and abroad to create one work of art each on the theme of “World Peace” and install them in the affected areas of the three prefectures in Tohoku, northern Japan. Then people from all over the world will come and visit the artworks with maps in their hands, experience the local life, enjoy the food and culture, and interact with the local people. In addition, invited musicians and performing artists from Japan and abroad will encourage and interact with the local people through concerts and plays. In other words, the process does not end with the creation of the artworks, but rather with the catalyst of culture and art, which creates a big whirlpool of people, gives strength for the future, and revitalizes the community. I believe that “1% for Art” has the power to create such dynamism.

In the “Interview” section of this website, sculptor Takenobu Igarashi (former president of Tama Art University) talks about the “1% for Art” program in the United States. The city of Los Angeles decided to replace the bridges damaged by the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake, and invited the artists to apply for 1% program. Dr. Igarashi, who was staying in the U.S.at that time, proposed a project to elaborate artistic decorations on the parapets of the bridges, and his proposal was adopted for two of the bridges. In addition, the interior of a terminal care hospital was also built by him with 1% program. Based on his experience, he points out how this program has a great impact.
There may be some debate about allocating a certain amount of the public building budget, which is originally a tax, to culture and art. However, I believe that this will send out a strong message from the government that it will place culture and the arts at the center of national development and that it will work to build a cultural nation.
I would like to ask for your understanding and cooperation in enacting the “1% for Art” legislation.

The First Step in Promoting “1% for Art”

Chairman Seike (left) handing over the proposal to Minister of Transport Morita (at that time)

The Japan Transportation Culture Association (JPTCA)’s efforts for “1% for Art” date back to 2000. In December of that year, we submitted to the government a “Proposal for the Promotion of Public Art,” which called for the realization of a policy to allocate approximately 1% of public construction costs to culture and art.

This proposal was compiled after six months of discussions by the “Special Committee on Public Art,” which was established under the leadership of the association. The committee is chaired by SEIKE Kiyoshi (architect, professor emeritus at Tokyo University of the Arts and Tokyo Institute of Technology) and consists of more than 20 people active in various fields such as art, administration, railroads and transportation, including SUMIKAWA Kiyoshi (sculptor, President of Tokyo University of the Arts), MIYATA Ryohei (professor at Tokyo University of the Arts), UMEZAKI Hisashi (vice-minister of the Ministry of Transport), and OTSUKA Mutsutake (President of JR East). Mr. HIRAYAMA Ikuo (painter) and Mr. SUMIDA Shoji (Senior Advisor to JR East) were appointed as advisors.

The proposals for the future of Japan’s cultural policy included the following: (1) the realization of “1% for Art,” (2) the establishment of a minister in charge of culture, (3) tax incentives for culture and the arts. The proposal was handed over to Mr. MORITA Hajime, Minister of Transport, and Mr. SASAKI Masamine, Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and was also submitted to the Chairman of Keidanren, Federation of Economic Organisation, and art universities across Japan.

In January 2019, TAKI Hisao, Director General of JPTCA, also spoke at the LDP’s Subcommittee on Art’s Market Revitalization (chaired by Tamayo Marukawa) about the need for the “1% for Art” legislation to be enacted.


The Corona disaster has put artists and the art world in a difficult situation.
In May, the Association put together a proposal for the radical promotion of culture and the arts, which was handed over by President Taki to senior government officials and political figures.

Now is the time to realize “1% for Art” in the midst of the Corona disaster

Corner of “1% for Art” at the Traffic Culture Exhibition 2020

The Corona disaster has caused unprecedented difficulties for people involved in culture and the arts around the world. In the fields of fine arts, music, performing arts, and small theaters, people are deprived of job opportunities, lose opportunities for expression, unemployed, and face difficulties in maintaining culture-related facilities. Against this backdrop, various emergency measures have been taken in developed countries.

In Japan, the Agency for Cultural Affairs has announced support for the reopening of cultural facilities, improvement of the viewing environment through the use of advanced technology, and the Art Caravan. Such emergency measures may be necessary. However, these measures are limited in budget and target only a limited number of artists and people, and I must say that they are insufficient to overcome the crisis.

To begin with, the reality is that Japan’s cultural budget is extremely small among developed countries, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the national budget, for the world’s third largest economy. In 2017, the cultural budget accounted for 0.11% of Japan’s national budget, and compared to the UK (0.16%), Germany (0.49%), France (0.88%) and South Korea (1.05%), the difference is obvious. In the same year, the cultural budget per capita was 2824 yen in the UK, 2634 yen in Germany, 7568 yen in France, and 5597 yen in South Korea, compared to 819 yen in Japan (based on the “Report on Comparative Research on Cultural Policy in Other Countries” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 2008).

In this Corona disaster, German Culture Minister Monika Grütters pointed out the importance of artists, saying, “Artists are now indispensable to life support systems,” and contributed 50 billion euros (about 6 trillion yen) to micro-enterprises and self-employed people, including those in the field of arts and culture.

Culture and arts are important drivers of tourism, one of the few growth industries in Japan. Along with Japanese food, the top reasons why foreigners are interested in Japan are related to culture, such as anime, manga, games, music, and traditional culture. In addition, 29.3% of foreign visitors to Japan visit art galleries and museums (according to a 2018 survey by the Japan Tourism Agency). The number of foreign visitors to Japan exceeded 30 million the year before last and last year, and this is not unrelated to the fact that the revised Basic Law on Culture and the Arts in 2017 steered the country away from “preservation of culture” to “utilization of culture,” and culture and the arts are now being actively exhibited and utilized for tourism.

The role that culture and the arts play in people’s lives cannot be overlooked. In Japan, where the birthrate is declining and the population is aging, people tend to turn inward, become isolated, and lose touch with their surroundings. However, culture and the arts can bring joy and inspiration to people, and can also be used for healing. It also brings people together, gives centripetal force to the community, and builds connections across generations. It also fosters diversity and has a great effect on education.

As we look ahead to the post-Corona era and the need for a new way of life, it is time for us to come up with a drastic policy for the promotion of culture and the arts.

We believe that this crisis should be viewed as a springboard for a change in cultural policy, and now is the time for the government to come up with drastic policies for the promotion of culture and the arts. Our association has been involved in the promotion of culture and the arts for more than 70 years, and based on our experience, we would like to propose that the “1% for Art” legislation be enacted.

Today, in Europe and the United States, “1% for Art” has become a major driving force for the promotion of culture and art. This system, which allocates 1% of public construction costs (depending on the country, it can range from 2% to 0.5%) to culture and art, has its roots in the United States during the Great Depression of 1929.

During the Great Depression, the U.S. federal government commissioned unemployed artists to create public art for public buildings and parks as part of its New Deal policies. The result was not only to support the artists, but also to provide opportunities for the public to appreciate art, contributing to the creation of an American cultural identity. This was the forerunner of the “1% for Art” program, and after the war, this system was adopted in France and other countries in Europe in the 1950s, then in the United State. It was no longer a policy against unemployment, but an engine for the promotion of culture and the arts, and played a big role in making culture and the arts a major industry in the countries.

The reason why “1% for Art” became an engine for the promotion of culture and the arts is that the amount of work created by this system is completely different level from the amount of work purchased by museums or sold by art galleries to art lovers, and many artists have grown up with opportunities from this system. In the United States, music and performance are also widely covered by the “1% for Art” program, and during the openings of public facilities, sometimes concerts, ballets, and performances are held. This is fostering people’s interest in culture and the arts, expanding the art market, and creating a virtuous cycle. The ripple effect on the promotion of culture and the arts is tremendous.

There is an argument for using public funds, which is “1%” of public building costs, for culture and the arts. I am convinced, however, that the use of public funds will send out a powerful message, as it will be a clear statement of the government’s intention to place culture and the arts at the core of the post-Corona nation-building process and to work toward the construction of a true culture and arts nation. This will also lead to a rethinking of culture and the arts, which in Japan have tended to be viewed as the work of individuals, in terms of their broader public nature.

Ninety years ago, during the crisis of the Great Depression, the United States opened up new horizons in the world of culture and the arts by launching innovative cultural policies. I believe that Japan should use the Corona disaster as an opportunity to make a major shift in its conventional cultural policy. I would like to reiterate my request for the legislation of “1% for Art”.

TAKI Hisao,
Director General
Public Interest Incorporated Foundation,
Japan Traffic Culture Association

(This proposal was handed over to the senior government officials at the end of May 2020.)

We also support “1% for Art”

  • IGARASHI Takenobu

    IGARASHI Takenobu

    Sculptor/ Former President of Tama Art University

  • KUMA Kengo

    KUMA Kengo

    Professor at The University of Tokyo

  • NOYORI Ryoji

    NOYORI Ryoji

    Director-General, Center for Research and Development Strategy, Japan Science and Technology Agency

  • MATSUURA Koichiro

    MATSUURA Koichiro

    The eighth Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

  • MUROFUSHI Kimiko

    MUROFUSHI Kimiko

    Ph.D., President, Ochanomizu University

List of supporters of legislation for “1% for art”

(Alphabetical order)


AIHARA KazuyukiSpecial professor at the Tokyo University
AIZAWA MasuoFormer president/Professor emeritus at the Tokyo Institute of Technology
ASO HidehoMural painter


Bernard DELMASSenior advisor of Michelin group


FUKUI SawatoJapanese-style painter


HARADA KazuyukiRepresentative director of Keikyu Corporation
HASEBE KenMayor of Shibuya
HAYASHI NariyukiProfessor emeritus at the Nihon University
HIRAMATSU ReijiJapanese-style painter
HIRASAWA KimihiroRepresentative director of FUYOU SHOBOU SHUPPAN (publishing company)
HORI Fumiko (the deceased)Japanese-style painter


IGARASHI TakenobuSculptor
ISHIDA YoshioFormer auditor of East Japan Railway Company
ISHIGE KeidouCalligrapher, Member of Japan Art Academy
ISHIHARA SusumuFormer advisor of Kyushu Railway Company
ISHIWATA TsuneoRepresentative director of Keikyu Corporation
ITO TakamichiSculptor


KATO AkikoAdministrative director of AFS International Program, Japan
Exective director of Japan Future Leaders School
KATO HisatakePhilosopher, Professor emeritus at the Kyoto University
KAWAKATSU HeitaGovernor of Shizuoka Prefecture
KAWASAKI AsakoJapanese-style painter
KAWASAKI SuzuhikoJapanese-style painter
KUDO HaruyaProfessor at the Tokyo University of the Arts
KUDO SeiichiroFormer Representative director of GURUNAVI, INC.
KUMA KengoProfessor at The University of Tokyo
KURASHIMA ShigetomoJapanese-style painter
KURODA ShinjiroCommissioner of NPO Society for the Pan-Cultural Characters
KUSAMA TetsuoDyeer


MATSUURA KoichiroThe eighth Director-General of United Nations Educational,Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
MATSUZAKI RyotaJapanese-style painter
MITOOKA Eiji Industrial designer
MIYAKE YoshihiroProfessor at the School of Computing of Tokyo Institute of Technology
MORI HanaeFashion designer
MORIYAMA TomokiJapanese-style painter
MUROFUSHI KimikoPh.D., President, Ochanomizu University
MUROSE KazumiLacquer artist


NAKAJIMA ChinamiJapanese-style painter, Professor emeritus at the Tokyo University of the Arts
Permanent comissioner of Japan Artists Association, Inc.
NEZU YoshizumiRepresentative director of TOBU RAILWAY CO., LTD.
NISHIKAWA TomooFormer representative of Nishikawa Sidley Austin LLP
Special Honorary Professor at the Josai International University
NOMIYAMA GyojiWestern-style painter, Professor emeritus at the Tokyo University of the Arts
NOYORI RyojiDirector-General, Center for Research and Development Strategy, Japan Science and Technology Agency


OGURA KenichiJapanese-style painter, Grandson of the late OGURA Yuki
ONARI HiroshiSculptor, Commissioner of Japan Artists Association, Inc.
OSUGA YorihikoSpecial company friend of Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd.
OTOMO KatsuhiroManga artist, Film director
OTSU EibinWestern-style painter, Member of Japan Art Academy
OYA NoriJapanese-style painter


SANO NuiWestern-style painter, Former president of the Joshibi University of Art and Design
SHIMIZU ShinobuSpecial advisor of TOKYU RAILWAYS Co., Ltd.
SUMIKAWA KiichiSculptor, Member of Japan Art Academy
SUZUKI Chikuhaku (the deceased)Japanese-style painter


TACHI ItsushiEvangelist of regional activation
TAKAGI SeiuCalligrapher, Member of Japan Art Academy
TAKAHASHI ChieLacquer artist
TAKAMURA MakioFormer president of the Toyo University
TAKATSU AkemiDyeing craftsperson
TOMITA HiroshiRepresentative director of GEO SEARCH CO.,LTD.
TORII YukiFashion designer


UMEZAKI HisashiAdvisor of Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd.


YAMAMOTO TeiWestern-style painter
YAMAORI TetsuoReligion scholar
YATABE AtsuhikoFormer diplomat
YOSHITAKE KenjiWestern-style painter
YOSHIZAWA KazuoJapanese-style painter


Brian WILLIAMSWestern-style painter

Total: 66 supporters as of the end of March, 2021

*Titles are omitted.

In this column, we will introduce the “1% for Art” initiatives in several countries.

The United States

“1% for Art” has its roots in the pre-war New Deal policies of the U.S. (called Percent for Art in the U.S.). As part of this policy, he ordered art to decorate parks and public facilities in order to create jobs for artists who had lost their jobs.

The policy, which started as an experimental program in 1933, was retooled the following year to allocate 1% of the construction cost of public buildings to the purchase of artworks. A series of processes were decided upon to select the artists who would create the works through an open competition, which became the precursor to today’s “1% for Art”. By the end of the ten years, it is said to have created over 8.5 million jobs, including 6,000 artists. Approximately 120,000 pieces of art, including paintings, sculptures and murals, were created during that time and continue to adorn federal buildings across the United States.

It is said that this program not only saved the artists, but also increased the opportunities for people to experience art, and at the same time, provided a great foundation for the awakening and establishment of American culture in the U.S., which had an inferiority complex with European culture and art. With the outbreak of World War II and the decline of interest in culture and art, the program ended in 1943.

It was not until the late 1950s that the “1% for Art” program reappeared in the United States. However, unlike the pre-war programs to combat unemployment, the post-war programs were designed to promote culture.

The program was first adopted in Philadelphia in 1959, followed by Baltimore (1964), San Francisco and Hawaii (1967), Seattle (1973), Washington (1974), and Alaska and Oregon (1975). In addition to states, cities and other basic municipalities in the U.S. introduced the system. Currently, it is said that more than 350 basic local governments have adopted the system. At the federal level, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) launched a policy in 1972 to allocate 0.5% of the construction cost of federal buildings to the purchase of public art.

At the state government level in all 50 US. states (as of 2018), 27 states have adopted 1% for Art (e.g. Oregon, Washington, Florida), and 5 states have adopted it but stopped (e.g. Texas, Minnesota, Michigan). The remaining 18 states have not adopted it. Of the states that have adopted “1% for Art,” 23 require 1% and 5 recommend it.

The percentage of money allocated to public art varies from 0.25% to 1.25% depending on the state, but is generally 1%. Public art is not limited to works of art, but also includes performances such as physical expression and modern dance, and such performances are sometimes held during the building’s dedication ceremony.

Public art began to appear in the United States in 1950s, but in the 1960s its role began to be seen in a new light. Not only as a culture, but also as a catalyst for urban policy. In the midst of urban slums and environmental degradation caused by riots and the widening gap between the rich and the poor, public art became the focus of attention for urban redevelopment and improvement of the urban landscape. The presence of public art was reported to increase community awareness and reduce graffiti and vandalism, which may have been the reason why local governments began to actively introduce the “1% for Art” program in the 1960s.

The “1% for Art” program is not without its critics. One is the criticism of public artworks themselves. The more abstract and provocative the work is, the more criticism will occur. The second is the criticism of pouring public money into culture. Particularly in states and municipalities that are in financial difficulty, there is criticism from the public, asking, “Why are we giving money to art when our finances are in trouble?” In some states, governors and legislators have tried to suspend public art programs citing financial difficulties, but failed to do so due to opposition from the legislature.

The National Association of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), a non-profit organization that promotes public art in state governments, cites several reasons for promoting public art. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Enhancing the value of public space (public art creates a more humane and enjoyable place to live, and encourages people to think about government buildings, public transportation, and other public spaces that impact their daily lives)
  2. Community creation (Public art is more than an object embedded in public space. The process of public solicitation, application, screening, and decision-making for the production of public art encourages dialogue and engagement of the people involved, and the installed public art is a collective expression rather than an individual artist’s work. Through this art, memories of local traditions and history are shared, leading to the revitalization of local communities)
  3. Nurturing artists (“1% for Art” will give young artists, who have few opportunities to present their work, a chance to develop their talents and make a leap forward)
  4. Economic impact (beyond the employment of artists, the project will have a positive impact on the local economy. Art-related materials, related craftsmen, and various services will be mobilized, and after installation, it will attract locals and tourists, leading to businesses such as amenity sales and coffee shops etc.

There is a lot of controversy in the U.S., but the fact is that the “1% for Art” is firmly embedded in the art industry, and it creates the dynamism of cultural power in the U.S.


French government’s “1% for art” logo

In France, “1% for Art” is referred to as “un pour cent artistique”. In 1936, before the war, there was a movement to legislate it, but it was never realized. However, the idea lived on and in 1951, after the war, the Ministry of Education introduced a requirement that 1% of the construction cost of schools and other educational facilities be allocated to public art. The aim was to familiarize students with culture and art and to use the funds for art education. Subsequently, the finance ministry, the foreign ministry, and other ministries adopted the program, and in parallel, local governments also adopted it. In the government, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense, the last two remaining ministries, introduced the program in 2002.

France’s adoption of this program was probably due in part to the country’s unique approach to cultural policy. In the 17th century, when the monarchy was at its peak, King Louis XIV announced himself as the protector of learning, arts, and literature, and this stance became the basic idea behind the country’s cultural policy. France believed that culture was a public service that the state should take the initiative in providing to the people.

The Ministry of Culture was established in 1959, the same year the “1%” was introduced, and the first Minister of Culture, André Malraux, who held the post until 1969, set the goal of allocating 1% of the national budget to cultural policy. Under Mr. Lang, who would serve as Minister of Culture for about 10 years under the Francois Mitterrand Socialist government, the cultural budget reached 1% of the national budget. Mr. Lang has expanded the concept of culture beyond art and music to include film, fashion, graphics, and cuisine. In addition, he was working to promote culture among citizens by enhancing cultural education. There is no doubt that “1% for Art” has contributed to this.

The Ministry of Culture, which oversees the “1% for Art” policy, explains the meaning of the program. ” As an expression of the public will to support creation and to make our fellow citizens aware of the art of our time, the “obligation to decorate public buildings”, commonly known as the “1% artistic” is a specific procedure for commissioning works from artists that is imposed on the State, its public institutions and local authorities. ” (Ministry of Culture website). This also shows that the national and local governments are responsible for creating jobs for artists as well as satisfying the cultural needs of the people.

According to the ministry, from 1951 to 2019, more than 12,400 pieces of public art have been created and installed, and more than 4,000 artists have been involved. The “1% for Art” site on the Ministry of Culture’s website provides information on open calls for entries by region and overseas. Artists and architects are encouraged to apply by searching for such information. For example, when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France has a project to renovates its diplomatic compound overseas, it invites public submissions for project to decorate them.

The “1% for Art” program is also active in revitalizing cultural heritage. For example, the Ministry of Culture purchased the 17th-century Saint-Jean building in Toulouse, southern France, which is designated as a historical and cultural heritage site, and underwent a major renovation. The Ministry of Culture bought it and did a major renovation. 1% of the cost of the renovation was allocated to art, and three artists were selected to decorate the building, bringing it back to life with wonderful contemporary decoration. The museum is now open to the public as well as the offices of the Ministry of Culture.

In France, the maximum amount of money that can be allocated to “1% for Art” is 2 million euros (about 240 million yen). If the 1% for Art is less than 30,000 Euros (about 3.6 million yen), the owner can choose an existing work by a living artist, but if the 1% for Art is more than 30,000 Euros, a new work must be ordered.

In 2011, the Minister of Culture, Frédéric Mitterrand, speaking on the 60th anniversary of the “1% for Art” program, cited four points as the significance of this program.

  1. Clarifying that public art and the “1%” are two wheels in the same vehicle.
  2. It has succeeded in bringing culture and art to a wider audience and sharing it with them.
  3. Democratization of culture has been achieved.
  4. Brought surprise, awakening, and unexpectedness to daily life.

The term “democratization of culture” here refers to the broad concept of culture, which includes not only high class culture but also popular and everyday things, and which citizens can now enjoy widely.

Since 2014, France has had an annual “1% for Art Day,” in which primary and secondary schools, high schools, universities, and institutions of higher learning all participate. Educational facilities are decorated with projected images and their own artworks, open to the public, and students and pupils serve as guides. As first introduced by the Ministry of Education, “1% for Art” is closely linked to education in France, and is an opportunity to take a fresh look at art in our daily environment, and a day to think about the importance of 1% for Art.


The Italian Constitution, enacted in 1947, states in Article 9: “The State shall promote cultural development and scientific and technological research. Protect the nation’s landscapes and historic and artistic properties”. In 1949, the “2% Law,” commonly known as the “1% for Art” law, stipulated that 2% of the building budget should be allocated for artistic works in public buildings. This law was applied to the basic municipalities of the state, provinces, and municipalities, with the aim of nurturing artists and providing them with creative opportunities, as well as the aesthetics of public buildings.

This flat rate of 2% was amended in 2012 to 2% for amounts of construction between €1 million and €5 million, 1% for amounts between €5 million and €20 million, and 0.5% for amounts over €20 million. Exceptions are made for schools, universities, and health care facilities. The selection of artists is made by a committee consisting of a representative of the governmental authority responsible for the construction of the public building, the planner of the building, the officer in charge of supervising art and historical property, and two artists (appointed by the governmental authority).

In Italy, however, there has been frequent criticism of the opaqueness of the process of selecting artists and the fact that the rule of allocating a certain percentage to public art has become a well-known nuisance. It is believed that the background to this is the selection of artists based on nepotism and cozy relationship, corruption, and the financial difficulties of local governments. In the northern region of Emilia-Romagna (capital city of Bologna), where the 2% law is applied, by the mid-2010s, 158 public facilities had 355 artworks purchased. In the northern region of Emilia-Romagna (capital Bologna), where the 2% law is applied, it is said that 355 items were purchased and created in 158 public facilities by the mid-2010s.


Inside the subway station in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden

Sweden has the longest history of “1% for Art” in Europe; in 1937, the Parliament passed the “Cultural Policy Initiative” and started the “1% for Art” (or “1% Rule” in Sweden) in order to provide workplaces for artists who were hit hard by the Great Depression. The National Gallery of Art was responsible for implementing this program. The National Council for Public Art was responsible for its implementation. However, the policy of always allocating 1% of the construction cost of public buildings to art was criticized as too rigid. After some twists and turns, such as the government supporting half of the 1% and the builder paying the other half, from 1947, the government began to make a separate allowance for the installation of public art in addition to the construction cost.

Currently, it is optional for prefectural and municipal governments to adopt the “1% for Art” program, and even if they do, it is only recommended. However, there are many municipalities that have adopted it, and while one municipality has set the rate at 0.5%, others, such as the capital city of Stockholm, have set it at 2%. Flexible application is a characteristic of Sweden. In 1997, not only public buildings, but also public spaces and public squares became eligible for decoration, and the National Council for Public Art subsidized it.


Handbook of ” Percent for Art Principles 2019 ” in Finland

Finland periodically publishes a handbook to promote understanding of the “1% for Art” (known as the Percent of Art Principle in Finland). According to the handbook, 70% of the public “would like to see (public) art in their neighborhood, schools, libraries, and workplaces,” 90% feel that “art makes them feel positive,” and 79% believe that “art makes their environment better and safer. Also, 44% of respondents said they would be prepared to pay higher rent if they could live in a building where 1% of the construction cost was used for aesthetic decoration.

The “1% for Art” was introduced in Finland in the late 1960s. As the word “principle” implies, it is not prescribed by law and is flexible in operation. In addition to the capital city of Helsinki, large cities such as Ulu apply the 1%, while small and medium-sized municipalities decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to apply the 1% for Art to buildings such as day care centers, schools, and hospitals. Also, the percentage to be allocated to art is not necessarily 1% and is decided on a case-by-case basis.

However, there is a strong awareness among people that “art has a variety of positive effects on the environment” (handbook), which has led to a movement in recent years to utilize the “1% for Art” in a more dynamic way. In 2014, the Cultural Promotion Center (APC), an affiliate of the Ministry of Education and Culture, introduced a system where local governments are partially compensated for the amount they allocate to art when they apply the 1% for Art program. In the six years up to 2019, 73 municipalities have received funding from APC.

In addition, a major impact on the operation of 1% for Art was the redevelopment project of the Arabianranta residential area in Helsinki, which started in 2000. The city instructed the private developers participating in the project to allocate 1% to 2% of the construction cost to art. The redevelopment project was completed in 2015,and over 300 pieces of public art were created and installed in buildings, parks, and plazas decorations.

Since then, redevelopment projects in various areas have been modeled after the Arabian Ranta district. In larger cities, the city is divided into several districts, and in certain areas, private developers are required to participate in the 1% for Art program.


In Ireland, 1% for Art frameworks were initially created by different ministries: in 1978, the Department of Public Works adopted a model based on 1% for Art, and in 1986, the Department of the Environment created a framework called “Artistic Decoration. In 1994, a group of experts submitted a report to the government called the Public Art Research Project, which combined the two, and on the basis of this report, the government decided to introduce “1% for Art” in 1997. This is not based on a law, but rather a guideline.

It applies to public buildings, transportation and roads, environmental drainage, pumps and reservoirs, and urban renewal projects. The budget allocated for art depends on the size of the construction cost, which was revised in 2019 as follows:

  1. 1% of the budget for art up to a construction cost of €5 million
  2. from €5 million to €20 million, 1% will be allocated to the art budget, up to a maximum of €120,000.
  3. 1% of the art budget for construction costs between €20 and €50 million, up to a maximum of €350,000
  4. For construction costs of €50 million and above, the minimum budget for art is €500,000, with the percentage decreasing as construction costs increase.

South Korea

In 1972, South Korea enacted a law for the promotion of culture and art at the national and local levels, stipulating a recommendation of 1% of the building budget. This was based on the “1% for Art” program in Europe and the U.S. In 1982, a clause on the “Architectural Art Decoration System” was added to the law (now the “Architectural Artwork System”). In the case of Korea, however, the focus was on private buildings rather than public buildings, which is different from the West. The idea was to increase opportunities for people to come into contact with art by having art works installed in private buildings at the initiative of the government.

In the 1980s, in preparation for the Asian Games (1986) and the Seoul Olympics (1988), there was a growing awareness of the need to beautify the urban landscape and promote culture and art, and Seoul became the first city in the country to make art decoration on buildings mandatory in 1984. At the national level, the Law for the Promotion of Culture and the Arts was amended in 1995 to make the installation of art works in buildings mandatory.

For buildings with a total area of 10,000 square meters or more, the building owner was required to allocate 1% of the construction cost for the installation of artworks (later reduced to “less than 1%”). The law was further amended in 2011 to allow the owner to choose between installing the artwork or contributing an amount equivalent to 0.7% of the installation cost to the “Arts and Culture Promotion Fund” (a fund designed to support the promotion of arts and culture in general). In addition to the private sector’s contribution, the fund is made up of government contributions and individual donations, and is used to support a wide range of cultural and artistic activities, including the recent rise of pop art in Korea.

The mandatory 1% for Art program has increased citizens’ exposure to art and provided creative opportunities for artists. At the same time, however, it has been criticized for the unfairness of the selection of artists, the cozy relations between architects and artists, and the lack of cultural awareness among builders. There were also growing complaints that the program was hindering private economic activities. In 2006, the government launched “Art in City,” a public project to expand public art throughout the country.

Despite various controversies, the growing understanding of public art and public space design has contributed to the improvement of the urban landscape and the popularization of art, attracting tourists and creating opportunities for artists. The Korean government’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism launched the “Village Art Project” in 2006. The purpose of the project was to create employment for artists, recreate a cultural and artistic space in the region, increase opportunities for local residents to enjoy art, and revitalize the local economy through art. In terms of the number of public art installed based on the “1% for Art” program, the number has been hovering around 600 to 1,000 per year in the mid-2010s, and the related market is said to be worth 70 to 100 billion won (10,000 won=9 us $) per year.


Public art of MRT (subway) in Taipei, Taiwan. Taipei North Station “Daydream” (left), Sanchong Station “Echoes of ages”

Taiwan is also making great efforts to promote public art, and many public artworks have been installed all over the country. In the capital city of Taipei, public art can be seen in subway stations, underground passageways, the area around the skyscraper Taipei 101, plazas, and parks. There are no ordinary public artworks, and they are interesting and never boring to look at. Nowadays, public art tours have become a highlight of Taiwan tourism. In addition, the Ministry of Culture’s website, “TAIWAN Public Art,” has a Google map of all public art in Taiwan, and you can view the works.

In 1992, Taiwan enacted the Law for the Encouragement of Culture and the Arts, which states, “The owner of a public building shall install a work of art for the purpose of beautifying the building and the surrounding environment. The value of such works of art shall not be less than 1% of the construction cost of the building. ( excerpt from Article 9). However, in the case of a huge construction project, such as a bullet train station, the installation of public art is mandatory, but the percentage of contribution does not have to be 1%.

Article 9 also stipulates that if a private citizen uses his or her building for public purposes (such as a concert hall, theater, exhibition hall, meeting hall, etc.) and installs art in it, “if the cost of the work of art exceeds 1% of the construction cost of the building, the government shall provide monetary compensation for the excess.

In 1998, Taiwan adopted the Law on the Establishment of Public Art in order to make public art promotion more effective. The law stipulates a number of matters related to public art, the most notable of which is the requirement to establish Public Art Advisory Committees (PAWC) at the government and municipal levels.

The PAWC is the engine for the promotion of public art, and in the case of local governments, it consists of 13 to 17 members, including local government officials, architects, artists, and urban designers, who decide the public art policy. Whenever a public building is constructed, PAWC sets up a “Public Art Selection Committee,” which invites public participation in the creation of art, and also reviews and decides on the work. In addition to local government officials, the selection committee is made up of different members each time, including the building’s designers, artists, and environmental designers, to ensure that there is no collusion or arbitrary selection.

According to the 2017 edition of the white paper, there were 474 public artworks installed in 100 locations across the country during the year, and the production budget allocated for “1% for Art” was Taiwan$ 680 million ( 100 Taiwan $=3.6 us $1.76 billion). This is slightly higher than the previous year (2016).

At the end of each year, the Public Art Awards are held to recognize the best public artworks installed that year. 243 works were entered in the Public Art Awards held in December 2018, and 17 works from 7 fields were selected as “art that matches the surrounding environment”. The Ministry of Culture has also introduced classes at schools to consider public art from the perspective of “environment and art.

The Ministry of Culture has posted on its website a list of public art installation plans related to the construction of public buildings throughout Taiwan, and artists are encouraged to look at this list and apply. Foreign artists are also free to apply from abroad, which is a major feature of Taiwan’s public art policy.

Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s government has stated that Taiwan is a multicultural country, and that Chinese culture is only one element of that multiculturalism, which may have something to do with the hiring of foreign artists. Takenobu Igarashi, former president of Tama Art University, applied for and was selected to create a public art piece to be displayed in the Government Building in Taipei’s sub-center. His sculpture still adorns the entrance hall of the government building.

*In this column of global initiative, we referred to the following books and documents
-Public Art Policy: The Publicness of Art and the Transition of American Cultural Policy” (Yasuyo Kudo, published by Keiso Shobo)
-Report on “Research and Study on Financial Resources Appropriated for Cultural Policy,” a study commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in FY2013 March 31, 2014 WIP J
-The Handbook of the Percent for Art Principle in Finland 2019
-PUBLIC ART: Percent for Art Scheme General National Guidelines-2004; Ireland
Websites of ministries of culture and other organizations in various countries, and websites related to 1% for Art



Japan needs a “1% for Art” Program

IGARASHI Takenobu Sculptor/Former President of Tama Art University

Mr. IGARASHI took advantage of “1% for Art” both in the United-States and in Taiwan to produce his art works there.
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