top of page

Investing in public art is beneficial to economic development planning.

Updated: 6 days ago

The recovery efforts from COVID-19’s debilitating economic impact appear promising for New Jersey. We’re in the midst of a residential construction boom that’ll attract a diverse rise in the population. In addition, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Main Street Lenders Grants, created under the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020, ensure the growth of small businesses as millions will go to lenders and logistical assistance programs.

The key to a business’s success is community building. Municipal initiatives towards community engagement are supporting stakes for growing a business’s network of patrons. Public art is a method of attracting tourism while providing promotional opportunities for local shops. Retailers on the outskirts of a main street draw needed attention from public art.

A prime example of an excellent initiative toward public art is the city of Newark. The city’s murals are an archive of its rich cultural legacy. Yendor, a boutique arts organization, has long told the history of Newark with mural initiatives alongside Newark’s Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Arts ED Newark, and Girl Scouts of NJ.

With the rapid growth of city development in recent years, public art programs have grown in scale with support from regional private sectors joining partnerships with local art organizations. An example is Audible, headquartered in Newark has launched the Newark Artist Collaboration in 2019 to encourage investment in Newark’s creative community with art installations and murals at their facility and the surrounding downtown area.

The Four Corners Public Arts is a public and private partnership to create communal space in under-acknowledged neighborhoods within the city. With the collaboration of The City of Newark, Invest Newark, Newark Arts, Newark Downtown District, Paramount Assets, and RBH Group, the project has proven to be an asset to businesses along the route of the murals.

In Teacher’s Village, a mixed-used community in Downtown Newark, and one of the locations of the Four Corners Murals, shop owner Isabel Livingston, Closet Savvy Consignment, is pleased with the murals adjacent to her brick-and-mortar. Isabel is a social media personality, personal style consultant, and motivational speaker. Her Instagram, which amassed a following of 135k, has numerous images of her posing in front of public art.

Isabel states that images of public art guarantee peak engagement online. Incorporating content that shows the community where a business operates furthers the brand's exposure. It is a contribution to the greater community of a municipality for which an audience may explore.

Although public engagement is returning steadily to pre-covid days, online marketing has proven crucial for brand discovery. Google internal studies have found that 40% of Generation Z use TikTok and Instagram as their default search engine for discovering local activities. The data is unsurprising, as these platforms are optimal for promotional imagery.

Instagram and TikTok are prerequisites for in-person social engagement. Place a search of a municipality on these platforms, and an assortment of images from community councils, restauranteurs, realtors, nonprofits, small businesses, residents, and tourists provide a visual language of its offering as a community.

The more content to soak in, the greater the allure. The appeal of local business is the community to which it belongs. To grow local commerce, municipal communal spaces and cultural planning are necessary. Public Art is a beautification method for social engagement and viewing pleasure online. It’s a promising partnership with private and public sectors and the arts community for the livability of its residents.

The expansion of public art has hopes of continuing throughout the Garden State. New Jersey State Council on the Arts recently announced a free training session called, Making It Public in partnership with the nonprofit Forecast Public Art. The Zoom series intends to provide in-depth knowledge of the field of public art to encourage future projects. Local professionals within art communities, nonprofits, government, and art and entertainment districts are encouraged to register for the scheduled sessions starting in March.

It is conclusive that we will see more public art sprinkled across New Jersey’s main street/downtown districts and other sections throughout our townships and counties. But, more importantly, the anticipated data on its impact on foot traffic growth in local tourism and commerce will likely showcase exciting results for our communities, which will display the value of the investment in the arts.


bottom of page