The Office of Public Works (OPW) has integrated the Per Cent for Art Scheme in its building projects since the late 1970s. The Government Decision of 1997 and the publication of the National Guidelines on Public Art by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism in 2004 formalised a national approach to the implementation of the Scheme. This Government Decision approved the inclusion of a 1% budget for art, subject to an overall cap of EUR64,000, in all Exchequer-funded capital construction projects. The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is responsible for Per Cent for Art policy and it is under this policy that OPW, and other participating Government Departments, continue to implement the Scheme.
Each Government Department manages the Scheme according to its individual role and responsibilities. As the OPW has responsibility for the management of the State Art Collection which contains over 15,000 historic and contemporary art works and decorative objects and which are on display in hundreds of State owned properties throughout Ireland, it remains committed to the use of the Per Cent for Art Scheme.
The majority of the contemporary artworks in the State Art Collection have been acquired under the Government's Per Cent for Art Scheme in recent decades. These works have been acquired from artists who are living and working in Ireland. Works have been purchased and commissioned from artists at different stages of their careers, with particular emphasis on those starting out in graduate shows and group exhibitions. OPW has also commissioned works in a wide variety of media - painting, sculpture, music and poetry through the Scheme.
Since the early 1990s, OPW has organised a touring exhibition of artworks to bring the works in the State Art Collection to audiences throughout the country. These exhibitions, which in more recent times, have been organised in partnership with the Department of Finance and Personnel of Northern Ireland as a cross-border cultural project, have travelled to a wide variety of venues including arts centres, libraries, public galleries and visitor centres. The exhibitions are accompanied by illustrated catalogues that document the work of the included artists, serving as records of the events and providing information for researchers.
The OPW has taken a strategic approach to managing the Scheme in recent years to ensure that the State Art Collection continues to enrich visitors' experiences in public buildings and to raise awareness of current contemporary art practice. Per Cent for Art funding is pooled to ensure the acquisition and commissioning of a variety of art projects to support the creativity of the current generation of artists and the infrastructure that surrounds their practice (galleries, foundries, framers, conservators, artist-led studios, etc).
The OPW Art Management Handbook sets out the procedures and policies involved in the implementation of the Per Cent for Art Scheme within OPW managed properties. The OPW website contains information in relation to the implementation of the Per Cent for Art Scheme and the management of the State Art Collection. OPW also continues to publish illustrated catalogues documenting the collection and copies of these catalogues are available from the OPW Art Management Office. The Office further encourages access to information for research purposes and works from the State Art Collection are regularly placed on loan to exhibitions organised by other cultural institutions and artists to further facilitate public engagement with the Collection.
Since its foundation in the mid 19th century, OPW has had responsibility for the presentation of State properties to millions of visitors from home and abroad. OPW continues to incorporate Irish art, craft and design into these properties to promote and encourage the creative output of artists, designers and craftspeople living and working in Ireland. The work created today, facilitated by the Government's Per Cent for Art Scheme, forms the heritage of the future.