Public Art Programs

Santa Cruz County Parks' Arts & Cultural Programs have brought art to the community for over three decades. Local artists are featured all over the county in our parks and public spaces. Learn about our unique public art programs and how to get involved!

Santa Cruz County Public Art Programs


Spotlight Award

Through the Spotlight Award, the County Arts Commission publicly recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of excellence and creativity in their work, but who have not received widespread acknowledgment of their talent. This annual award recognizes younger artists as well as those who are discovering their artistic voice later in life.  Judging criteria will include the effective use of media and tools to communicate their own personal style. The award will be given to one artist or artist group in each of the following mediums: visual art, performing arts, and literary arts.

Art in the Parks

Art from local artists and beyond are featured all over the county in our parks and public spaces. Browse our interactive map to find public art!

Percent for Art Public Art Program

Santa Cruz County's "Percent For Art" Public Art Program has brought public art to the community for the past 30 years! Local artists are featured all over the county in our parks and public spaces. Scroll to the bottom of this page to learn more!   Click here for a slideshow of several completed projects.

Call to Artists

County Parks issues Calls to Artists for a variety of arts opportunities throughout the year! Calls are for public art in County Parks, County-owned buildings, and other public spaces.

'Just In Time' Program

Have an idea to bring art to the community on County-owned property? The 'Just In Time' (JIT) program is a community-initiated public art program that provides a process for approval of public art projects which are not initiated by the County and when funding is from non-County sources. Projects must undergo a public art review and approval process before they can be executed. The artist and/or project sponsor is required to submit a project proposal. See the document below for more information!

Outside the Box Public Art Program

"What started as a graffiti removal program has blossomed into one of the County’s most beloved artistic endeavors. One by one, traffic signal boxes are getting artistic makeovers. The Santa Cruz County Parks Department’s Outside the Box (OTB) program has employed more than a dozen local artists to beautify otherwise dull utility boxes. They are being transformed into one-of-a-kind pieces of public art adorned with butterflies, robots, marine life—even composer Lou Harrison." - GoodTimes 2017

The Visual Chronicle of Santa Cruz County

The Visual Chronicle of Santa Cruz County is an archival collection of works on paper owned by the County of Santa Cruz that portrays artists' ideas, visions and perceptions of what makes this County unique. The intent of the collection is to document the spirit of the times in Santa Cruz. People, neighborhoods, landmarks, buildings, events, daily life - will be captured on paper by some of the leading artists in the County. To have work considered for the collection, you may download an application for the Visual Chronicle, or to have an application mailed to you, please call (831) 454-7933.

The Percent for Art Public Art Program


In April of 1991, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors took action to establish a Percent for Art Program applicable to County construction projects. Up to 2% of the cost of construction of buildings and parks may be designated to fund the inclusion of public art work.

County Administrative Officer Susan Mauriello aptly described the philosophy behind the Percent for Art program in her March 29, 1991 letter to the Board of Supervisors, recommending that the Board approve the program. She wrote, "During this year of limited resources, it is essential that our desire for fiscal prudence be integrated with the understanding that buildings are long-term assets which our citizenry can enjoy for generations. Consider the value of public structures such as the Marin Civic Center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the old wing of our State Capitol building and our wonderful memories of the Cooper House. These buildings were more than offices. They are the legacies left for us by public servants of earlier generations. In this way, we too have an obligation to our future. The aesthetics of our structures and the value of public art forms should be on our minds when we are considering capital building and park projects."

Contact Us


(831) 454-7901 (General)

Monday – Friday 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, except holidays

Our physical office is open, but staff availability is limited.