Downtown Tampa View

Art Programs - Programs And Services

Heidi Lippman's Andante on the Riverwalk

The Art Programs Division was established in 1985 as the Public Art Program through a percent for art ordinance, with the mission to promote the involvement of artists in projects throughout the city, to enhance the physical environment, celebrate Tampa's unique character and identity. The Art Programs Division oversees four programs: the Public Art Program, Public Art in Private Development, Partnerships and Education & Outreach. 

Art on the Block

Art on the Block, a new program recently launched by Mayor Castor, is envisioned to bring art into the neighborhoods through community workshops and other activities. Goals are to tell the stories of the neighborhoods through art, and open minds and discussion.  The first project site will be at Al Barnes Park in East Tampa. 

Public Art Program

The City of Tampa's Public Art Program is the oldest program in the bay area and was founded by city ordinance in 1985 with the mission to:

  • Promote the involvement of artists in projects throughout the city
  • To enhance the physical environment
  • Celebrate Tampa's unique character and identity

A Public Art Committee serves an advisory role and consists of a citizen group appointed by the Mayor. The program follows national best practices, is well respected and has consistently been nationally recognized for leadership it the field of Public Art.

Award-winning programs of the Public Art Program include: Photographer Laureate Program, Lights On Tampa, lighting of the downtown bridges, and many projects in the Public Art Collection that have been recognized by the Americans for the Arts as some of the best Public Art in the country. There are approximately 700 objects in the collection with nearly 120 exterior works, a substantial photography collection, and even some video installations that are accessible online.

Photographer Laureate Program

The Program began in 2003 with the intent that each year, an artist be commissioned to photograph an aspect of life and the crucial issues and events within the City of Tampa for one year. The objectives of this project are:

  • To build a photographic archive that documents a period of time for the citizens of Tampa
  • These images are of high quality and assets for the City of Tampa
  • To bring imagery of the city and its citizens that reflect the life and character of the city into its facilities

View the galleries of artists/photographers.

Lights On Tampa

Lights On Tampa is a public/private partnership between the City of Tampa's Art Programs Division and Friends of Tampa Public Art, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. The Program began in 2006 with the desire to bring something bold, of high quality, and "on the moment" to Tampa. The objectives were to and remain:

  • Put the spotlight on Tampa and its regional assets
  • Bring free access to artistic excellence

The Program returned in 2009 to be seen by millions when Tampa hosted the NFL's Super Bowl XLIII and in 2010, the Program was recognized as one of the 50 most significant art programs in the U.S. in the last 50 years (Americans for the Arts). In 2011, for one night only, Lights On Tampa returned with a site-specific family event featuring theater, dance, music, and visual art. The activities, performances, installations, and all new media art considered issues around intergenerational fun and engagement.

Public Art in Private Development

The City of Tampa's role in culture is to provide opportunities for engagement in the arts and improve the ability to learn by providing tools that impact community confidence. The city's cultural strategy seeks to create platforms for engagement that are free and accessible to the public and that maintain artistic excellence, have wide appeal and provide educational content.

As of 2017, the process has changed for Public Art projects for developers building in the Central Business District and the Channel District. Visit the art in development for that process and quick guides to each ordinance.


The Art Programs Division works with community partners to foster win-win relationships and to form public/private partnerships.  Some projects that have resulted from partnering with the private sector include the 9/11 memorial on Bayshore Blvd, Kinetic Ring in Westshore, Adamo Drive Mural in Ybor City, and the ongoing Lights On Tampa program. 

The Art Programs Division also offers a guide to assist private property owners paint a mural on their site. The guide is based on national best practices on how to commission an artist. 

Education & Outreach

The Art Programs division offers many free educational tools including lesson plans, downloadable information on artists and the projects they completed for the City of Tampa, MP3s of Poet Laureate James Tokley reading his poems, and a variety of educational videos on recent projects.  Additionally, Calls to Artists are available through the City's website, when released. If you are interested in applying and would like to receive the call to artists directly via email, please contact us and kindly provide your email address.