Mission & History

shaping spaces

UrbanArt Commission (UAC) is a non-profit organization committed to creating opportunities for artists and neighborhoods to connect and shape spaces through public art. 

About Us

Founded in 1997, UAC worked to establish the percent-for-art program with the City of Memphis, which annually allocates a percentage of the City’s capital improvement funds to public art projects.

The ordinance was adopted in 2002, and since then UAC has contracted annually with the City to manage the program. UAC’s management includes recommending projects to pursue, identifying and contracting with artists ,and overseeing the ongoing care of the City’s public art collection. 

UAC’s storefront office at 422 N. Cleveland.

UAC’s storefront office at 422 N. Cleveland.

Annually through the percent-for-art program, UAC partners with artists and a variety of community stakeholders including neighborhood groups and municipal authorities to produce art works in a wide range of media. Since its founding, UAC has commissioned over 100 works of art that have been placed in neighborhoods around Memphis. 

Beyond the percent-for-art program, UAC manages and is a leading partner on City-led initiatives such as Blight Out, Memphis 3.0, and the District Mural Program. UAC also manages projects for both private developers and businesses to augment the investment being made in our public infrastructure and our artist community. Additionally, UAC provides professional development opportunities for artists in partnership with other arts groups in the city. 

UAC is committed to equity and inclusion and aims to partner with and involve women, people of color, LGBTQIA individuals, differently abled persons, and indigenous peoples across all of its projects and programs. 

UAC is available to make presentations to neighborhood groups on topics that include: UAC’s public art process, UAC’s current projects and programs, public art history, blight, and arts advocacy. To request a UAC presentation at your institution or gathering, or for more information about UAC projects or programs, contact info@uacmem.org.


UAC aspires for art to be integral to a thriving and equitable Memphis.

For this to be true, UAC believes two key components are critical:

  • Artists must be supported in advancing their careers and recognized as creative problem solvers.

  • People most directly impacted by arts programming must be involved in identifying the goals and structure of those programs.

UAC believes in the power of creative expression and its potential to unlock opportunity, and transform places. The vision statement is founded on that belief and a recognition that UAC’s work is one component of a larger arts ecosystem in Memphis.

UAC is uniquely positioned to further this vision by working in public spaces with a wide array of stakeholders. In order to move towards this vision for Memphis and deliver on the organization’s mission, UAC will shape decisions and programming around these key values.

Download a copy of UAC’s Strategic Plan (PDF)


TRANSPARENCY. We believe that one way we can earn trust with our stakeholders is by being transparent about our decision-making. We create intentional opportunities to make our processes public by sharing our expectations and regularly incorporating feedback.

EQUITY. Our commitment to equity is rooted in our respect for humanity. We believe that equity begins with listening to and caring for all stakeholders and leads us to outcomes that cannot be predicted by a person’s identities. We recognize the need for new systems that address historic barriers to opportunity and access for communities of color, women, LGBTQIA, differently abled, and indigenous peoples.

MEMPHIS. Memphians shine when they design their own solutions, therefore we seek to embed local voice in all of our decisions. We honor the multiplicity of voices and experiences represented across the different neighborhoods of our city.

PEOPLE. People are at the center of our work. We build the platforms for individuals to produce and share creative experiences.

GROWTH. We are always learning. We listen to understand and identify new opportunities that further support our stakeholders. When our processes or programs change, it is in service to the changing needs in our communities.

Funding & Donations

UAC is funded in part by ArtsMemphis, the Tennessee Arts Commission, Hyde Family Foundation, Assisi Foundation of Memphis, First Tennessee, AutoZone, Plough Foundation, Thomas W. Briggs Foundation, and donations from private individuals.

UAC is an active member of Americans for the Arts, Tennesseans for the Arts, and the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network. All donations to UAC are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

We are also proud to support the Specialty License Plate program on behalf of the Tennessee Arts Commission. The sale of specialty license plates in the state of Tennessee benefits the Tennessee Arts Commission and their grantmaking across the state. For more information, please go to their website and order your plate today!