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European Expert Meeting on Percent for Art Schemes

(Percentage) Schemes in the Participating Countries


In the fifties Finland formulated a percentage scheme whereby 1% of the national building budget was to be spent on art. The Committee for the State Art Collection was set up, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, for its implementation. Because the scheme did not get off the ground, these days the committee is financed by the national lottery. It has 700,000 euros at its disposal annually for the purchase and maintenance of works of art.

Half of the Finnish state budget for culture goes to the municipalities, of which Finland has about 430. The government defines the designated use of state funds (such as culture) but the municipalities are responsible for how they are spent and interpret instructions in totally different ways. This freedom also applies to the legislation in the field of urban planning which results in a big variation in policy between the various local authorities. There are also a lot of private initiatives (companies, funds and individuals) in the field of art in public space in Finland.


There is no legal percentage scheme in Germany but there is a federal guideline which, in practice, has a comparable function. This guideline only applies to buildings which are realised on the instructions of the federal government and not to projects at federal state or city level and not, for example, to infrastructural projects, either. This does not alter the fact that some federal states and cities have adopted this guideline and have introduced similar legislation.

Although the federal guideline does not stipulate that there must be a committee which is responsible for the Kunst am Bau, in practice it is customary to install such a committee. These committees work closely with the Bundesverband Bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler.


There is no national percentage scheme in the United Kingdom . Some regional and municipal authorities have, however, developed a Percent for Art programme. There are also various private and government organisations which engage in art in public space, such as the Public Art Development Trust (this organisation no longer exists), the Government Art Collection, Platform for Art and Public Art South West (PASW).

Austria/Lower Austria

In Austria there is a formal percentage scheme at federal level. This scheme only applies to buildings which are commissioned directly by the federal government. However, because the government contracts out its building projects, in practice this percentage scheme is hardly applicable any more: only a few projects have been realised in this framework in recent years. Some federal states – which formulate their own policy as is the case in Germany – are still active in this field.

For example, in 1996 in Lower Austria a separate fund was set up for art in public space. Various building departments pay an annual contribution into this fund which comprises 1% of the total regional construction budget. In this way the budget is independent of specific building projects and is available for diverse projects for art in public space. A range of interdisciplinary projects can be financed with it and, moreover, artists can be involved from the commencement of the projects concerned.

The Netherlands

The integration of art in state buildings has been an element of government policy from the beginning of the nineteenth century in the Netherlands. In 1951 the so-called percentage scheme went into force. This scheme stipulates that for the building, conversion or renovation of state buildings, depending on the total building sum, 0.5 to 2% of the budget must be spent on the visual arts. As a result of the percentage scheme the Rijksgebouwendienst (Government Buildings Agency) is the biggest commissioner in the field of the visual arts in the Netherlands. More than 2,500 works of art have been realised in the last 40 years in the context of this scheme. More recently they have included increasing numbers of works of an experimental or conceptual nature.

The individual directly responsible for the implementation of the percentage scheme is the Rijksbouwmeester (Chief Government Architect). A team of advisors in the visual arts is affiliated to the Chief Government Architect's Studio to support him in this work. The formulation and implementation of every art commission are supervised by a working group consisting of the architect, the project manager and the (future) user of the building, as well as the advisor.

Belgium (Flemish-speaking Belgium)

There is also a percentage scheme in force in Flemish-speaking Belgium. The Flemish Government Architect is responsible for the selection of the artists and the realisation of the art projects, a set-up which is similar to the Dutch situation. The Kunstcel (Art Cell) of the Flemish Government Architect's team, which consists of three members, is entrusted with the practical implementation of the percentage scheme. The Art Cell takes care of putting together a jury which has to commission the works, and supervises their actual realisation.


The Swedish Statenskonstråd (National Public Art Council) was set up in 1937 with the objective of giving contemporary art a visible place in society by providing state buildings with art. In 1997 the scope of the organisation broadened to include public space in general. In recent years this has resulted in various works of art in inner-city regeneration areas, in infrastructural projects and in and around educational establishments. The National Public Art Council has about 5m euros at its disposal annually for its activities.


In Denmark the Statens Kunstfond (Danish Arts Foundation, DAF) is responsible for applying the percentage scheme. An Art Committee awards and supervises art commissions. This Committee consists of three permanent members, who are appointed for a period of three years for every building project, supplemented by the architect and two representatives of the user. The Committee has an advisory role. If the building is being built for the central government, the Committee covers all the costs of the art commission. However, if the building is being built for the local government, 25% of the costs are for the account of the commissioning authority. The percentage of the total building sum that must be spent on art in Denmark is 1.5%. The DAF can however add its own funds to a project and in this way claim a greater proportion. The Committee has 10m Danish crowns (1.5m euros) available for its own projects annually.


The Utsmykkingsfondet offentlige bygg (National Foundation for Art in Public Buildings, NFAPB) was set up in 1976. The reasons for doing so were connected to a strongly social-democratic outlook concerning culture and based on the wish to support artists by awarding public commissions. The commissions are primarily related to buildings. Commissions for public space have only recently been started.

The NFAPB works with three different financing schemes. Firstly, 0 to 1.5% of the building costs is reserved for the application of art for new government buildings. Secondly, government establishments which are housed in leased premises or older public buildings receive a small annual budget. Thirdly, a small annual budget is also available to support local authorities in using the visual arts.


A percentage scheme has been laid down by law in Spain, but there appear to be no fixed criteria for their practical implementation. There is also a clear distinction between projects at federal level on the one hand, and projects at provincial or municipal level on the other. As in many other countries, the local authorities have a high degree of autonomy in implementing the percentage scheme. However, each project is evaluated individually and there are therefore no generally-applicable procedures.