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NYC’s drab construction fences will get an artsy upgrade

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The city is launching a pilot program to enliven the city’s construction fencing and sidewalk sheds

Max Touhey

New York City’s hundreds of miles of construction fencing and scaffolding are going to get a bit of a facelift. The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs recently launched a pilot program that calls on artists and non-profit organizations to submit proposals for artwork that will temporarily live on certain sidewalk sheds and construction fences throughout the city.

City Canvas, as this program is called, is a two-year pilot program that’s being conducted in collaboration with the city’s Department of Buildings and the city’s Mayor’s office. The goal of the program is two fold: to make the general pedestrian experience in the city more attractive to New Yorkers and visitors alike; and also give artists and non-profit organizations a chance to display their work and earn recognition.

The Cultural Affairs department is looking for one or more non-profit cultural organization to implement this pilot program, and interested parties have until October 12 to apply.

“New York City is one of the most vibrant built environments in the world, and City Canvas is a great opportunity to let some of the artists working in our neighborhoods help to enliven and enhance our public spaces,” said Tom Finkelpearl, the NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner, in a statement.

The city has previously held competitions for site specific sidewalk shed improvements; one winner unveiled their designs in front of a Flatiron office building and near City Hall last year. Other organizations have also proposed quirky solutions to enliven the otherwise dreary sidewalk shed areas. Some places where you can currently see artwork on construction fences include the World Trade Center area, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the Domino redevelopment site in Williamsburg.