City Light 1% for Art Fund

A view of the Denny substation and surrounding high rise buildings with a tree sculpture in the center

Above, center: "Transforest" (2019) by Lead Pencil Studio

Seattle was one of the first cities in the United States to adopt a percent-for-art ordinance in 1973. City Light’s 1% for Art Fund allocates up to 1% of eligible capital construction funds for the inclusion of art. Since then, City Light has built a robust collection of over 400 permanently sited artworks and over 3,000 portable artworks. To explore the City’s Civic Art Collection, visit the Office of Arts & Culture website.

The City accepts a responsibility for expanding public experience with visual art. Such art has enabled people in all societies better to understand their communities and individual lives. Artists capable of creating art for public places must be encouraged and Seattle’s standing as a regional leader in public art enhanced. A policy is therefore established to direct the inclusion of works of art in public works of the City.

Seattle Municipal Code 20.32.010

An artwork showing a man facing right with a long tongue and vessels or wires on either side of him

Above: "Within Disease and Health: Flow" (2001) by Dan Corson and Lyn McCracken

The Seattle Arts Commission has a Public Art Advisory Sub-Committee to oversee the program, and the City’s Office of Arts & Culture commissions artworks to add to City Light’s public art collection using resources from the City Light 1% for Art Fund. The artworks in the collection are commissioned through a public process with panels comprised of visual artists along with community and city representatives.

Public artwork for Seattle City Light must have a close nexus to City Light’s fundamental purpose of providing electrical services to our ratepayers.

Art projects with a “sufficiently close nexus” to the utility’s primary purpose include:

  • Art used to beautify the utility's offices and customer service facilities
  • Art used in the construction or renovation of utility facilities
  • Art that educates the public about conservation or other specific utility programs
  • Portable artwork that is part of a utility's portable collection purchased for display at utility facilities
  • Artist-in-Residence programs for the purpose of creating art with a sufficiently close nexus to the utility
  • Maintaining the utility's artworks collection

An artwork showing a large red circle in the upper right corner, white in the upper left corner, and shades of brown in the bottom half

A glass artwork in the shape of a hat resting upside down featuring Northwest Coast Native designs

Above, left: "Fiery Globe" (1967-68) by Kenneth Callahan. Above, right: "Killerwhale Crest Hat" (2002) by Preston Singletary.

Artist-in-Residence

In 2021, City Light hired Kate Clark as an Artist-in-Residence charged with envisioning an Art Master Plan for how City Light administers its 1% for Art Fund dollars. The Art Master Plan will propose potential public art projects for future City Light projects, sites, and initiatives to be implemented through 2033.