Report: Art as Infrastructure cover image
Report: Art as Infrastructure

Author: Los Angeles County Arts Commisson

Publication Year: 2018

Media Type: Report


This report is an evaluation of a range of outcomes at the four sites in the Creative Graffiti Abatement Project in Los Angeles County. This report evaluates the success of arts-based strategies in shifting perceptions, increasing positive activity, reducing graffiti vandalism, building a sense of community ownership and building capacity for future arts and culture activities at the sites. While this report takes a summative approach to evaluating outcomes, the evaluator was embedded in planning and public engagement activities throughout the project, combining elements of a developmental evaluation approach with strategies from ethnographic inquiry. The report offers detailed recommendations for public art commissioning agencies, arts organizations, artists and evaluators implementing similar projects.


The field of public art has broadened its range of practice from monuments depicting historical figures that dominated the landscape of 19th century and early 20th century cities and the placement of fine art sculptures and murals in public venues. Today’s public art includes artistic practices that emphasize community involvement and may not result in permanently sited artworks. Among commissioning agencies, there has been a shift to include members of the community in the early phases of artist selection and artwork development, often with the intention to avoid “failed” artworks that are vandalized or must be removed because of controversy. In addition, public art projects, like other creative placemaking efforts, are increasingly wedded to larger community development goals, intensifying the interest in measuring outcomes. Public art is not typically formally evaluated because of a number of challenges that it poses, but the benefit of developing artworks as part of beautification and anti-blight projects is widely assumed. Using murals and artworks as a graffiti vandalism deterrence mechanism is often mentioned in graffiti abatement programs in particular. Nonetheless, little has been done to measure the effectiveness of artworks as graffiti vandalism deterrence or the outcomes related to temporary participatory artworks.

This report is an evaluation of a range of outcomes at the four sites in the Creative Graffiti Abatement Project in Los Angeles County. The Creative Graffiti Abatement project artworks are examples of artistic contributions to the physical and social aspects of civic infrastructure. In this project, the LA County Arts Commission drew on its experience realizing arts-based solutions that enhance the value of civic spaces, securing grant funding to continue and expand its practice in this area, with the support of the Office of the Second Supervisorial District of the County. The LA County Regional Parks and Open Space District, which funds the development and improvement of parks, recreational, cultural and community facilities and open spaces, approved the project in 2013. The Arts Commission proposed that public art and engagement financed by the grant would increase community pride and a sense of ownership of public assets, which would ultimately lead to the reduction of graffiti vandalism at county properties. The project team designed the project to:

  • Ensure that public engagement was integral and ongoing
  • Create new cultural assets that would meet the needs of each site
  • Test a peer-to-peer model to ensure that artists were fully supported to meet the demands of the project
  • Incorporate evaluation as a component of the project design

The Project Coordination Committee selected the project sites from parks and libraries in the Second Supervisorial District based on the high frequency of graffiti vandalism at the sites and opportunities to leverage other county investments for success, such as percent for art funds from renovation or construction projects.

Arts & Intersections: Infrastructure

Categories: Transportation & Infrastructure


Series Title:




Pages: 62

Resources: Document


Name: LA County Arts Commission

Website URL: